By Emem Idio, Yenagoa
An Environmentalist, Comrade Alagoa Morris, has lamented the devastating effects of pollution on the environment and danger pose to the fishing occupation of the people of the coastal communities.
Morris, who is also the Project Director of Ondewari Health, Education and Environmental Project, OHEEP, stated this while speaking on a one day workshop for fisher folks in Bayelsa State, organised by the Health of Mother Earth Foundation, HOMEF, in Yenagoa.
Speaking on the theme: “Coastal Environmental Monitoring, Reporting and Advocacy,” he said the negative impacts of pollution experienced in the environment is that they have led to increased health risks, lower life expectancy, reduced levels of the fecundity of land and marine ecosystems.
While blaming the multinationals for most of the pollution, he, however, challenged the fishing folks to be organised through their cooperatives and be actively involved in monitoring the environment and taking independent actions in their common interest.
“In our environment, first and foremost is the oil industry induced pollution, right from the exploration to exploitation stages, the activities of the oil industry has been associated with pollution and these include the use of explosives for seismic activities, hazardous drilling chemicals, discharge of drilling fluids and production water into our environment.
“Importance of the marine ecosystems and freshwater ecosystem is that fishing is a source of livelihood and a critical source of animal protein for the people. We need clean and healthy creeks, rivers, lakes and oceans to support our own health and survival and we cannot afford to gamble with and privatise our oceans through exploration/exploitation and pollutions.
“Even though there are fishing cooperatives especially in the coastline communities, realities on ground shows that these bodies have not been actively involved in monitoring the environment and taking independent actions in their common interest.
“There is need for fisher folks to make marine environment a priority and take needed steps to address matters negatively affecting them. But the benefits cannot be maximized unless concerted efforts are made in terms of well-thought-out and workable policies that would include fisher folks and also deal with the issue of pollution.
“Also, our fisher folks need to be organised and take steps to do the needful towards the defence of the marine ecosystem,” he said.
In his remarks, Mr Ebieberi Wailers, a Coastline Marine Expert, said that the people around the coastline are finding things difficult because of coastline erosion that has sacked many households in the area.
He said that the fish in the coastline have started dying again as no one could state the main cause, adding that the peoples’ lives are being threatened also and called on the Bayelsa government to also create an enabling environment for fisher folks as they are passing through difficulty, even in the aspect of global warming.