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Dying fishes spark fear of oil spill in Bayelsa communities

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Residents and fishermen along Foropa, Sangana communities of the Atlantic coastline in Bayelsa State have expressed fears over a possible oil spill from a vandalised pipeline after sighting dead fishes on the shorelines.

This followed safety concerns in the maritime ecosystem as some of the residents told The Guardian that the development was strange and could be an indication of increasing toxicity of the Atlantic Ocean, which could adversely impact aquatic life and the residents.

Although there are speculations that there was a leak from one of the offshore platforms, but during investigation with the operators, none of the companies admitted having spills from their facilities.

An industry expert, Adi Noel, said the incident may have been triggered by the use of dispersants to clean up operational spills, a claim that could not be confirmed.He explained that dispersants were toxic chemicals used to break down crude oil molecules in deep offshore environments far from human settlements.

A resident of Sangana, Michael Owin, pointed out that the people have been seeing dead fishes washed and dropped by the tide daily for some time now, lamenting that some persons have been picking the contaminated fishes and eating them.

“It is not unusual to find fishes dropped at the coastline after the tide goes down but the huge number is making us to suspect that the marine ecosystem must be getting much toxic.

“The common fish species here are known to be resilient and sensitive, and so one would have expected them to migrate deeper, but their death in numbers may be and indication of crisis,” he said.

A fisherman, Ebi Seigha from Southern Ijaw Council Area, told The Guardian on telephone that the communities were worried at the development, adding that they were concerned about the state of their catch.

Meanwhile, an environmental activist, Alagoa Morris, has expressed concern over the development and urged relevant government agencies to take urgent steps to find out the cause of the occurrence.

He said given the location of several oilfields near the Bayelsa coastline, there was the need for surveillance and to find out if the incident has links with spillages from oil and gas exploration.

“Dead fishes washed ashore in their great numbers is not only a strange occurrence, but it also points to a serious environmental safety related matter.Such dead fishes cannot be said to be windfall that residents should be happy about,” he added.


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