Coastal fishermen threaten showdown with trawlers operators

Fishermen catching fish in Bayelsa

SEQUEL to the death of three people among them, Coastal fishermen in Southern Ijaw and Brass Local Government Areas of Bayelsa State have threatened showdown with operators of fishing trawlers over their recklessness that led to the death of their colleagues, and the refusal to adhere to the five nautical miles rule on the waterways.

The death of the three fishermen is brewing tension in the coastal community, which could lead to crisis if not redressed by government authorities both at the federal and state levels.

The concerned communities are Odioama, Twon-Brass, Sangana and the Koluama, Foropah, Ekeni, Ezetu of Brass and Southern Ijaw Local Government Areas of Bayelsa State.

The affected indigenes of Southern Ijaw and Brass communities, in a report released in Yenagoa by the Safe Environment Advocacy group, the Environmental Right Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), accused trawler operators of killings, thefts of fishing nets and catches and armed attacks.

A community leader from Foropa community of Southern Ijaw, Chief Uyadongha Ziprebo confirmed that somebody died as a result of trawlers coming so close to trawl at the Shoreline in our environment.

According to him, on the fateful day, two persons from Ilaje in Ondo State, who were residing in the communities, also went for fishing same night that the incident occurred.

“And seeing a trawler fast approaching their fishing boat, they jumped into the water and one of them was found dead later by a search team from the community. The deceased could just be identified as Funsho for now. I don’t know his other name. It is as bad as that,” he said.

He posited that operators of fishing trawler had become lawless and made it difficult for us to engage in fishing expedition.

In his opinion, John Degbe of Ekeni community, said: “For sure, the activities of trawler operators in our environment in recent times have become a major source of worry to our people. You know we are a fishing people and once our main occupation is threatened, our lives are also threatened. As I speak to you now, there is a very recent case at Foropa, our neighbouring community, where somebody, an Ilaje man, died due to trawler incursion to the coastline.”

“They damage our fishing nets, hooks and floaters on the sea; on the shallow waters. We are not really happy about this and unless the authorities intervene, it might result in a very disastrous showdown. Government should prevail on the trawler owners/operators to go back to where they used to operate lawfully and leave us to also live our lives’’.

The state Coordinator of the ERA/FoEN, Comrade Morris Alagoa, in his recommendation and resolution on the raging tension in the affected coastal communities, stated: “Trawler operators’ incursion to the shoreline is becoming abnormal and a threat to the livelihood and lives of residents of coastline communities in Bayelsa State”.