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Marine Environment: Public health scare as Niger Delta communities eat dead fishes washed ashore

A mariner has raised the alarm over scores of dead fish lining the coastal areas in some communities around Bonny in Rivers State and down to Eket in Akwa Ibom State.


For the mariner who prefers to remain anonymous, the key concern is that of public health dangers that could befall seafood eaters as according to him, locals have been having a field time carting away as much fish as they could.
Onepageafrica reports that a team of investigators including Godswill Jumbo, who is a journalist, Humphrey Buowari , Kelly Brown and Kindness Brown, had visited Finima Town, Amariari, Lighthouse, River 7, Agaja, Uku-Mbi, Mbisu 1, Mbisu 2, and Ifoko communities when they heard of the situation.
The report, according to the team’s investigation, shows that while some of the fish (Croaker) popularly known by the locals as ‘Broke Marriage’ and called “Onah” in Ibani dialect,  harvested are dried and eaten at home, a large quantity of it is sold to unsuspecting buyers in bigger markets in Port Harcourt.  
The investigators also confirmed in the report that the situation could cut across other states of the Niger Delta Region including Ondo, Delta, Bayelsa, and Akwa Ibom.
The team said it specifically observed that “Only the Croaker was affected across all the observed affected areas; the dead fish were always turning up fresh in the mornings along the shores; the fishermen observed out at sea that some of the fish kept popping up on the surface of the water and some were alive when sighted, only to be struggling to stay alive and then they die.
“Within 2 nautical miles from Lighthouse, the fish were all dead, but beyond that and as far as the Fairway Buoy many of the fishes were sighted alive only to die later;  on the body of the fish, swellings were sighted looking like a lesion or boil. When pricked something pus would be excreting from it; the fish begins to rotten from the tail as against the head. The fish begins to turn green when it begins to get rotten.
“When spread out on the fire to dry, unlike normal fish, these do not thoroughly dry up, instead they would disintegrate or scatter; out at the sea, we observed that the tide was carrying them from the high sea towards the sea shores, suggesting probably that the cause of their deaths may be up ahead out there in the deep sea.”
The team thinks that the situation should be declared a public health emergency, while the law enforcement agencies be involved to stop further harvesting of the fish.

However, samples of the fish and water from different locations along the shoreline have been sent to Professor Ibitoru Hart, an expert in hydrobiology and fisheries at the University of Port Harcourt for scientific investigations to ascertain the likely cause of the problem.

Environmental concerns such as this would get attention in discussions on World Earth Day, which usually holds on April 22 yearly.
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