By Iniobong Ekponta, 21 May 2012
Uyo — FISHERMEN operating at the Atlantic coastline in Nigeria’s Niger Delta have attributed floating weeds observed in the ocean surface as consequence of oil spills.
According to reports by some fishermen and coastal dwellers, massive death of seaweeds could be noticed on the ocean floor from Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta and Ondo states.
‘The development has hampered fishing and raised anxiety over the safety of the marine environment to support life of sea creatures that make up the food chain’, notes Ekaette Ikpong, a local seller of acquatic resources in Ibeno water front.
Fishermen who spoke on the incident said that the massive depletion of the sea weeds at the ocean floor was caused by toxic chemical dispersants used by oil firms to clean up spills.
They particularly accused Shell of extensive use of dispersants in containing the massive spills from its Bonga deep sea oil field in December 2011.
According to Mr. Inyang Ekong, Secretary of Artisan Fishermen Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Akwa Ibom chapter, the massive depletion of sea weeds would lead to fish scarcity.
‘What we see is a direct consequence of the toxic chemicals used by oil firms operating in this region especially Shell to clean up oil spills.
‘During the Bonga oil spill of last year, Shell deployed large quantities of dispersants to sink the oil to the ocean floor.
‘Now the chemicals has wiped out the marine life including the weed that fish feed on, this has damaged the food chain and getting fish will become more difficult,’ Ekong said.
He noted that the decomposed sea weeds covered the ocean surface and contaminated their nets as well as forced fishes to migrate deeper into the ocean.
Confirming the incident, Mr. Irvin Obot, Zonal Director of National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) said that the agency had received a report of the incident.
Obot said that the massive depletion of the sea weeds from the ocean floor could be a sign of what he called ‘upset’ in the marine environment which, according to him, required scientific investigation.