Nigeria is losing over $70 million yearly to illegal fishing by Asian vessels on its waters, while its other aquatic resources were being threatened, the president of the Nigerian Trawlers Operators Association (NITOA), Mrs Margret Orakwusi, said in Abuja on Wednesday.
“Nigeria is losing this much from its own waters to illegal fishing, while we are importing over $200 million worth of seafood products annually to supplement local production,” she said.
Orakwusi, who was also the Chief Executive Officer of ORC Fisheries, added that the illicit business had also depleted the nation’s fish stocks and described the development as “unfortunate” calling on the federal government to regulate fishing in the country’s territorial waters .
She noted that the uncontrolled activities of the operators of such vessels had also led to incessant attacks on the trawlers by the pirates who also killed, kidnapped and seized crew members, their vessels and fishes.
“Between 2002 to date, Nigerian trawler owners have incurred losses of over 10 billion naira which include the entitlements and compensation paid to families of those who lost their lives at sea because of the attacks and ransoms paid for those kidnapped by the pirates,” she disclosed.
“Since we have been talking about the activities of the pirates on the high seas, not a single one has been caught and taken to court and jailed, but they attack us daily.
“We the trawler operators in Nigerian waters pay huge ransoms to secure the release of our vessels or personnel seized by hijackers with order to the effect that the money be deposited in their bank accounts.”
She said if the officials were serious about the activities of the pirates, “they can trace them with the account where such monies are being lodged”.