ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
The Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) has called for concerted effort by stakeholders to conserve and preserve the water bodies and its biodiversity.
HOMEF made the call in a statement on Wednesday by its Media/Communication Lead, Miss Kome Odhomor, to commemorate the 2022 World Ocean Day.
The Executive Director, HOMEF, Dr Nnimmo Bassey, was quoted in the statement as calling for real collective action to protect the ocean and other water bodies.
HOMEF said: “We cannot talk about collective actions without first defining what the problems are, and who are responsible for the problems.
“It is crystal clear that industrial fishing, offshore exploration and exploitation, dumping of waste offshore and similar activities are the major drivers of pollutions and aquatic ecosystems destruction.
“We can only thrive when our oceans thrive. Polluting the ocean is a direct threat to humanity and polluters must not be allowed to divest without first accounting for their environmental sins.
“As the world marks the 2022 World Ocean Day with the theme: ‘Revitalization: Collective Action for the Ocean’, it is necessary for us to have sober reflections on the state of our oceans, seas, rivers, and creeks.
“It is particularly important that individuals and local communities who have lived in harmony with these water bodies be recognized, supported and learnt from.
“It is a day for dialogue with fishermen and community people whose connection with the ocean, rivers, and creeks around them goes beyond livelihoods. it is their life.”
The environmental rights focused organisation said the degraded condition of the communities is a sad commentary on the despoliation of the Niger Delta and the Gulf of Guinea by oil exploration and exploitation.
“Like many other extractive communities of the Niger Delta, Ogulagha community is incessantly impacted by oil spills and waste dumps that threaten not only the aquatic ecosystem but also the survival of the people,” HOMEF added.
According to the statement, the commemoration is also used to inaugurate the FishNet Alliance chapter in Ogulagha community in Delta State. FishNet Alliance is a network of fishers in Africa.
Speaking on behalf of the alliance, Stephen Oduware said: “Fishers are facing a lot of problems ranging from pollution to low catch of fishes.
“Climate change impacts and insecurity at the high seas are real threats. It seems there is a deliberate attempt to erase fishers out of the equation and value chain.
“The recent plan by the Nigerian government to deploy genetically improved Tilapia fish (GIFT) buttresses this at the national level, while the current WTO chair’s negotiation text supporting overfishing through fisheries subsidies reinforces the sorry state at the global level.”
HOMEF said that FishNet therefore called on national, regional, and continental governments to consult fishers on policies that govern aquatic ecosystems and support artisanal fishers because they support the economy and provide employment.