14 Oct 2016

Tension as fishing trawlers crush many to death

There is palpable tension in coastal communities in Brass and Southern Ijaw local government AREAS OF BAYELSA STATE, as fishing trawlers operating in the area crushed three people to death.

The people of Odioma, Sangana and Twon Brass in Brass local government area and Ekeni, Ezetu, Koluama and Forupah in Southern Ijaw SENT a ‘Save- Our Soul’ message to the Bayelsa and Federal Government accusing the owners of the fishing trawlers of engaging in dangerous operations and violating existing laws.

The people who haD lodged similar complaint with the Environment Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth (ERA/ FoEN) accused trawler operators of killings, theft of fishing nets and armed attacks.

According to Chief Uyadongha Ziprebo from Foropa community in Southern Ijaw community who confirmed the development   the situation was no longer acceptable to  the people:
“That is one of the most current subjects of discussion at Foropah community. Just few days ago somebody died as a result of trawlers coming so close to trawl at the Shoreline in our environment. Two persons from Ilaja in Ondo State who have resided here for years going about their fishing activities went out to fish that night.”

“And due to the way a trawler was fast approaching their fishing boat they jumped into the water and one of them was found dead later by a search team from the community. The deceased could just be identified as Funso for now. I don’t know his other name. It is as bad as that. Trawler operators have become really lawless and making things uncomfortable for us; since we are all first and foremost, fisher folks’’.

John Degbe of Ekeni community said government must come to the rescue of the people before a major fight would break out between the community and operators of fishing trawlers:
“For sure, the activities of trawler operators in our environment in recent times have become a major source of worry to our people. We are a fishing community and, once our main occupation is threatened,  our life is also threatened. As I speak to you now, there is a very recent case at Foropah, our neighbouring community, where somebody, an Ilaje man died due to trawler incursion to the coastline.”

“They damaged  our fishing nets, hooks and floaters on the Sea; on the shallow waters. We are not really happy about this and, unless the authorities intervenes; it might lead to a very disastrous levels. Government should prevail on the trawler owners/operators to go back to where they use to operate lawfully and leave us to also live our lives’’.

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