Three persons have been crushed to death by fishing trawlers in Bayelsa state on Friday, September 14.
The accident reportedly took place on Friday, October 14, in Brass and Southern Ijaw local government areas of the state.
Residents of Odioma, Twon-Brass, Sangana, Koluama, Foropah, Ekeni and Ezetu communities have also accused the operators of the fishing vessels of engaging in dangerous operations and violation of existing laws, Daily post reports.
In a report released in Yenagoa by the Environmental Right Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, the communities accused the owners of the trawlers of killing, stealing fishing nets and sponsoring attacks in the community.
The leader of Foropa community, Chief Uyadongha Ziprebo, revealed that someone was killed a few days ago when one of the trawlers came too close to the shoreline.
He said, “Two persons from Ilaje in Ondo State, who have resided here for years, going about their fishing activities, went out to fish that night.
“Due to the way a trawler was 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.
“For now, the deceased is identified as Funsho. I don’t know his other name. Trawler operators have become really lawless and making things uncomfortable for us; since we are all first and foremost, fisher folks.”
An indigene of Ekeni community, John Degbe, added, “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 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 Foropah, our neighbouring community, where somebody, an Ilaje man, died due to trawler incursion to the coastline.
“They damaged our fishing nets, hooks and floaters on the sea in the shallow waters. We are not really happy about this and unless the authorities intervene, it might lead to a very disastrous level.
“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.”
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The State Coordinator, ERA/FoEN, Alagoa Morris, also complained about the invasion of trawler operators into the shorelines of the coastal state.
“Trawler operators’ incursion to the shoreline is becoming abnormal and threat to the livelihood and lives of residents of coastline communities in Bayelsa State.
“The situation calls for urgent intervention of relevant agencies of the federal and state governments. The law of the sea has stipulated five nautical miles away from the coastline or shoreline for trawlers to operate.
“Besides, captains of trawlers have been assigned the responsibility of not going close to any fishing gears on the waters. They are expected to give a space of over a mile to any such fishing gears in the sea.
“The law also stipulates that captains/operators should promptly report any damage caused to the property of other users of the sea. This gross violation of the law needs to be addressed as it should.
“A brief research indicates that there is an existing law referred to as the Fisheries Act of 1992 or Decree No 108 of 1992 wherein trawling is put at a limit of five nautical miles off the coast or continental shelf.”