The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) has said that it found no oil leaks linked to the massive death of fishes that float and litter the Atlantic coastline across the Niger Delta region.
The agency said it was coordinating a multi-agency investigation aimed at unraveling the cause of the reported massive death of fishes within the nation’s territorial waters and was looking beyond the oil industry.
Mr Idris Musa, Director-General of NOSDRA said in a statement availed to newsmen on Thursday that investigation was already ongoing despite the COVID-19 lockdown.
Musa explained that officials of NOSDRA deployed from the agency’s office in Warri, Yenagoa and Port Harcourt have conducted site visits to the Atlantic coastline in Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers to collect water and fish samples for tests.
“The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) carried out a reconnaissance of the area in Delta where we first got the report through a member of a Non Governmental Organisation.
“There was no incident of oil spill within the area of reported dead fishes, notwithstanding that a few dead fishes were seen along the shoreline.
“The event of recent days where the death of fishes in large numbers make it expedient to look beyond oil spillage as the likely cause of the death of fishes in such large numbers.
“The Agency proceeded to collect samples of water, sediments and some of the dead fish for laboratory testing. In doing so the agency brought onboard other relevant agencies of government that have mandate on our territorial waters.
“In particular the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR), Federal Institute of Fisheries Research.
“Also included is the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) for an all hands on deck assessment of the possible cause or causes of death of the fishes in such large numbers,” Musa said.
The NOSDRA Chief Executive said that the results of ongoing laboratory analysis would be compared with results from the participating agencies to proffer an effective solution and ensure a more stringent regulations in future.
He said it was situations like this that informed the agency’s limitations to the use of chemical dispersants in the water bodies near human settlements and assured that NOSDRA remained committed to a sustainable environment.
The Bayelsa Government on Tuesday, urged residents to abstain from harvesting, processing, eating or selling dead fishes currently littering the Atlantic ocean coastline in the state.
The advice was coming more than one month after reports of massive death of fishes floating near the shoreline across the Niger Delta was deposited on the coastline by tidal waves.
It would be recalled that residents along Koluama, Ekeni, Ezetu, Fishtown, Foropa, Sangana axis of the Atlantic coastline in Bayelsa, had reported sighting dead fishes littering the shoreline, since the middle of March.
Some of the residents said the incident became obvious since March 15 and had yet to abate, fueling fears of pollution of the country’s territorial waters as a result of the dead fishes.