By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa—Hard time awaits foreign fishing trawlers operating illegally on Nigeria territorial waters as the Federal Government has ordered the Nigerian Navy to put a stop to their activities.
The move is to protect the country’s local fishermen from being pushed out of business by the more sophisticated foreign fishing trawlers operating illegally on the nation’s territory waters.
Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri stated this in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, during his meeting with farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural sector.
He said that the influx of foreign trawlers into Nigeria’s territorial waters through the coast to fish without the permission of the Federal Government would no longer be accepted.
According to him, “As Nigerians, we have not tapped up to two percent of our fish resources, we still have 98 per cent untapped.”
The Presidency, he noted, had directed the Chief of Naval Staff to look into the matter with immediate effect.
He said: “These foreign trawlers coming right in front of our territorial water in the Niger Delta sometimes, their type of fishing is so dangerous that the fishing nets of our people are damaged.
“If you complain, they kill you. We have raised the issue with Mr. President and the President directed the Chief of Naval Staff to look into the matter. Also, recently, the Chief of Defence Staff came to Rivers State to launch the new boats that will patrol the whole of our territory. Something is being done to ensure that these people who are coming do not come beyond the international water into our territorial water.
“We are taking it very seriously and that is why we have been holding meetings with Nigeria Navy and Ministry of Defence to see how we can protect our territorial waters. “
The minister also enjoined indigenes of Bayelsa and other states of the region to embrace peace as the Federal Government continue to explore ways of boosting the economy.
He expressed concern about pipeline destructions by youths in the region, urging them to go into agriculture.
Senator Lokpobiri also advised the people of the Niger Delta region to invest in farming as loans would be provided for them by Bank of Industry and Agricultural Development Bank.