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Fresh alarm over threat to marine environment

By Godfrey Bivbere
LAGOS—Minister of Transport, Alhaji Ibrahim Bio, is worried about the dangers posed by ballast water dumping in the Nigerian waters. He warned that the country is faced with the risk of invasion from micro-organisms in the ballast water using for balancing by ships.

Bio, at a two-day seminar organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, tagged, “The National Ballast Water Management Training” in Lagos, yesterday, explained that the country’s heavy involvement in the crude oil export and the high level of shipping activities, the nation’s water, is exposed to the invasion.

Minister of Transport, Alhaji Ibrahim Bio represented by Mr. Ahmed Enessi noted that water hyacinth was introduced to Nigerian waters by ballast water dumping by vessels transporting goods out of and into the country.

According to him, “Nigeria is at risk of invasion, through the large fleets of vessels plying its territorial waters. Presently, Nigeria is faced with the serious problem of invasion of water hyacinth in its territorial water.

Water hyacinth is one of the alien species suspected to have been introduced into our waters through ships ballast water.”

“Water hyacinth has devastating effect in the inland waterways, impacting natural resource, resulting in environmental degradation as well as affecting safety of navigation.”

He further disclosed that the purpose of the training is to raise awareness amongst stakeholders in the industry on the provisions of the Ballast Water Management Convention and to map out strategies for its effective implementation by NIMASA in line with international best practice.

Speaking earlier, Director General of NIMASA, Temisan Omatseye, said the recognition of the role played by ballast water in the introduction of invasion of alien species in aquatic environment, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has put the training programme in place to help developing countries understand the problem and monitor the situation.

Omatseye noted that Nigeria was one of the early countries to sign the convention on the issue and therefore makes it imperative to commence the implementation or enforcement.

He pointed out that the implementation would help to reduce the transfer of harmful aquatic organisims and pathogens, build capacity to address ballast water issues, undertake legal, policy and institutional reforms and management, as well as prepare for the implementation of the provisions of the ballast water convention.

He also disclosed that a task force for that purpose has been constitute by the federal government.


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