Environmental Pollution Threatens Seafood …As Fishermen Abandon Creeks

Traditional fishing is in danger in Rivers State as fishermen have abandoned the rivers and creeks due to environmental pollution and high cost of fishing inputs.

Chairman, Planning and Logistics Committee of the Bille Kingdom Development summit, Sir Somieari Isaac-Harry made the assertion during the unveiling of the Kingdom Development Blueprint, “Agenda 2040″ held in Port Harcourt, recently.

Isaac-Harry said although the people of Bille Kingdom are known predominantly as fishermen, shell fish collectors, processors, petty traders and businessmen, fisher-folks are dying because of the harsh environmental conditions such as illegal oil bunkering otherwise known as “Kpo Fire”.

He noted that edible delicacies like fish, periwinkles, oysters, whelks and clams are getting extinct as a result of the environmental degradation and the resultant poverty that exists among the fisher-folks.

According to him, satellite communities in the kingdom could serve as immediate or palliative measures to diversify the agricultural ventures into Brackish water fish culture in the supratidal mangrove swamps, coconut plantation with processing facilities and livestock and crocodile culture for export to earn hard currency, adding that these options would create lots of employment opportunities to the youths and ensure food security.

The Chairman however appealed that as a potential economic power in the state, standard fishing trawlers should be acquired with development partners and foreigners to provide employment to fishermen and youths, a fish landing jetty should be built in Touma Community with all accessories to serve New Calabar River and Sombreiro River trough, as well as land reclamation by sand filling the mangrove swamps to link Bille Town to Touma Community among others.

Meanwhile, the Vice Chairman of Bille Kingdom Chiefs Council, Chief Ibitamino Minapakama has disclosed that Bille Kingdom had two oil fields with a total annual production capacity of 6,886,984 barrels of crude oil and 6,880,757 MSCF of gas in its territory, with a population of over 75,000 people and that there is no reasonable source of livelihood.

Minapakama however thanked Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) as the oldest development partners for sand-filling the area which had provided room for expansion and attracted infrastructural development to Bille Town.

He called for more synergy with their neighbours so that they could work towards a regional economic integration and development while they have the opportunity.

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