By Godwin ORITSE
THE Nigerian Trawlers Owners Association (NITOA) has that said the Amnesty programme put in place by the FederalÂ Government has brought some respite to operators in the fish trawling sub-sector as more trawlers are venturingÂ into the sea .
In an interview with Vanguard, the President of the Nigerian Trawlers Owners Association Mrs Margaret Orakwusi said that members of the group are beginning to see some sanity as a result of the Amnesty granted toÂ militants in the Niger Delta region of the country.
Orakwusi however called on the government to ensure that adequate security is provided for operators in the maritime industry adding that it isÂ only then that business willÂ Â thrive in theÂ sector.
On the return of her members to the waters, she said that members are coming back in trickles, noting that the current security situation is still at theÂ peripherals. â€œAlthough, we are yet to get to a fully secured and safeÂ marine environment, because every business man is there to make money and it is a business that is very capital intensive so people are not prepared to take chances.
â€œSome of us are there because of the patriotic spirit in us but there again, maritime security is aÂ global problem.
The groupâ€™s president also disclosed that before the attack on trawlers started about two year ago there were over 250 vessels operating in the sector that employed about 20,000 Nigerians. She furtherÂ disclosed that about 160 fishing boats have since returned to the waters following the relative security currently being experienced.
The lawyer turned fisher-woman explained that theÂ resources in the nationâ€™s waters will yield more revenue than what is gotten from oil and gas if they are better harnessed and managed. Enplaning further, Orakwusi said that foreigners come into Nigerian waters unchallenged and pouch these resources.
On the Maritime security Bill just passed by the House of Representatives, Orakwusi said thatÂ as long as the waters are secured, the members do not care who provided security for the marine environment.
It will be recalled that the incessant attacks on fishing trawlers and other installations in the oil and gas sector prompted the House of Representative to constitute a Ad-Hoc Committee on Maritime security who in turn proposed that a new agency be established to take care of marine security.