Fishermen operating on the Atlantic coastline in Akwa Ibom have requested for assistance to avoid an imminent fish scarcity.
The request, according to them, is due to their withdrawal from the sea after an oil spill in early December.
The spill from the Qua Iboe oil fields operated by Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN) caused by a pipeline leak on Dec. 4 reportedly forced the fishermen out of the sea to avoid catching contaminated fish.
Rev. Samuel Ayadi, the Chairman of the Artisanal Fishermen Association of Nigeria in Akwa Ibom told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday that fishermen impacted by the spill lost their nets and fishing gear and were thrown out of business.
â€œOur membersâ€™ nets were stained and contaminated by crude oil and such accessories are no longer usable, we need a lot of assistance from the government and the oil company to provide relief to affected fishermen.
â€œThe losses we incurred are no longer bearable due to the frequency of the spills. If our members are not assisted, a lot of them cannot go back to sea after the clean up exercise and the supply of fish would drop,â€ Ayadi said.
The leader said that the drop in fish supply would mean an increase in the prices of fish and make the commodity beyond the reach of most people.
Ayadi observed that about seven neighbouring states which sourced fish from Akwa Ibom would be forced to seek for more expensive alternative protein sources, adding that fish remained the cheapest option.
He said the association was still taking stock of damages suffered by their members with a view to making a demand for compensation.
He appealed to the Akwa Ibom government to come to the aid of the fishermen by donating relief materials and prevailing on MPN to be sensitive to the plight of fishermen who suffered the effect of oil exploration and production.
â€œWe have so many claims pending for previous oil spills and this one just happened, we are pleading with the government to intervene and pressurise the oil company to pay us for damages done to our fishing implements so that we can go back to sea,â€ Ayadi said.