Rivers state is naturally surrounded by rivers and it is also bounded in the south-east by the Atlantic Ocean.
The importance of this environment portrays that the state should take the lead in sufficient fish or seafoods production among other states in Nigeria.
But sadly, the Fisher-men’s Cooperative Units in the Bonny/Andoni area of Rivers State has attributed the high cost of fish in the market to the increase in the prices of fishing equipment and tools.
This position was made known by the Chairman of the cooperative, Mr Raymond Dike, who said that the cost of fish was high because of the inability of the dealers to afford the high cost of the various instruments used in the business.
According to him, the high cost of fishing gears has made it increasingly difficult for young people to invest their meagre resources and continue in the business.
Narrating their ordeal, Dike said, outboard engine that was sold at N200,000.00, for instance, is now sold at N450,000 while the prices of fishing nets and other accessories increased by 40 per cent than before in the market.
“You have to buy fuel to power the engine and you know that we do buy in drums and butter rubbers, which are an additional cost in filling stations.
“The cost we incur to get the fishes affects the market prices of the little fishes we are able to catch”, he said.
Dike said the number of fishermen in the cluster was more than 6,000 but only few of them have the fishing equipment to go into high-sea for fishing.
He said any person who desires to venture into fishing business now must have N2million Naira to invest into the business to attain the required standard.
He, however, said majority of the fishermen still operate with canoe, and that those local boats could only operate in shallow waters where crude oil and bunkering activities had already made fishing very difficult as the only means of survival in the area.
Dike also said that the increase in bunkering activities around the shore-line in the area have driven all the fishes out of the area into the high sea.
The Cluster chairman, who called for government intervention said fishermen and women who harvest on sea foods on the shorelines were now finding it very difficult to survive, explaining that they had to go too far places to get those sea foods, which made the market process of fish very costly in the market.
It was discovered that fresh fish in the market now sells for between N2,000 and N2,500 per kilogram, while the smaller ones in basket also cost higher.
“If you go to the market to buy fresh fish, what some market women will sell for you is the one that they had kept in the fridge for many days”, said Mrs. Edu Victor Akwah, housewife.
“It is not just peculiar to fresh fish alone. Even dry fish is now very expensive. The difference between the frozen fresh and the fresh one from the water is spotted when you cook them. The former is very cold and dissolves in the soup very easily”, she said.
Edu however, pleaded with government to subsidise the cost of buying equipment for fishing the same way it subsidizes fertilizer for the farmers. “It will help a lot of Nigerians especially those whose major occupation is fishing”, she said.