We Want Fish, Not Oil – Rivers Community Cries Out

We Want Fish, Not Oil – Rivers Community Cries Out
Paul Obiajunwo, Port Harcourt
Residents and fishermen in Okirika Waterfront community in Port Harcourt, Rivers state capital, have cried out that they want an end to oil exploration in the area.
They noted that instead of the continue suffering and pains they experience as a result of their polluted sea and environment, they would rather called on the government to stop the oil extraction and concentrate on fishery.
The fishermen made stated this yesterday during a community dialogue fishnet organised for fishermen in the area by Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMFEF).
The community fishnet dialogue was aimed at gathering the fishermen, provide space for the coastal and non coastal community members to review environmental situation of their communities and to identify needed areas of action to preserve and defend their heritage.
During the exercise, participants noted that it is preferable for the oil to be left to remain in the soil while the federal government concentrate on generating revenue from fishery as is been done in some developed countries.
A fisherman, Mr Albert Daka  who spoke with The Nation at the meeting said  artisanal refinery and dust poured daily in the sea has caused a huge challenge to them, stressing that the ugly activities going on in the sea in the state has made the fishermen in the area to remain poor.
Daka said: “What is disturbing us in this part of the state is this bush refinery. When a fisherman goes to the sea, he hardly cash fish this day. But today I can hardly catch one fish, even the fish to use for myself and family I can hardly catch as a result of the bush refinery and the dust in the sea.
“So this bush refinery is making the fisherman to be very poor. Today, a fisherman cannot train his own children, he cannot feed very well. I can say, two days ago I went to the sea and I could not catch fish to prepare even pepper soup because of the pollution in the water.”
Speaking,   the Director of HOMEF, NnimmoBassey, noted that the purpose for the fishnet dialogue was to discuss with community concerning fish at the impact of oil extraction on fisheries.

Bassey said: “We are having what we call Fish Net Dialogue which is a community dialogue concerning fish at the impact of oil extraction on fisheries. Is a situation where communities sit down to discuss issues concerning the environment, how their water bodies, the creeks were in the past and now.

“We have been looking at the pollution on fisheries, the effect of gas faring, effect of offshore drilling. And we all agreed that we are better off if we protect our environment and make sure we have fish and not just depend on oil.”