Oil Pollution, Industrial Trawlers Threatening Our Livelihoods — Bayelsa Fishermen

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Traditional fishermen in Bayelsa State have expressed concerns about the challenges they face in their livelihood, citing oil pollution, incursion by industrial fishing trawlers, and harmful fishing practices as major obstacles.

During a capacity-building workshop organized by the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), fishermen voiced their frustrations during a brainstorming session led by Dr. Ogechi Cookey, HOMEF’s Research and Publications Lead. They attributed the declining fish production in the Niger Delta region to these factors.

Fishermen highlighted how industrial trawlers, despite legal restrictions on their proximity to the coastline, encroach on their fishing grounds, employing “sweep fishing” techniques that overfish and deplete young fish populations crucial for replenishing fish stocks.

Another worrying practice involves the use of local leaves mixed with chemicals by some fishermen to enhance their catch, which ultimately harms the delicate balance of the food chain.

Chief Washington Odoyibo, a fisherman, farmer, and community leader from Ikarama, condemned the detrimental impact of oil exploration and associated spills on their lives. He lamented the loss of fish species and the contamination of waters due to oil spills, rendering them unsafe for fishing.

Odoyibo further criticized the use of booms during oil spill cleanup, stating that they often remain abandoned, obstructing navigation and posing further environmental threats.

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