Poaching in the Nigerian waters has become an issue of concern, as the country is said to be losing billions of dollars to illegal fishing yearly.
According to the Chairperson, Ship Owners Association of Nigeria, Barr. Margaret Orakwusi, poachers come into Nigerian waters without compliance to any known international or local laws to steal fish in a very irresponsible manner.
Orakwusi, who stated these to newsmen in Abuja, expressed worry that Nigeria takes only 40 percent of her resources, while 60 percent is lost to illegal and irresponsible fishing.
She further noted that for the poachers to find markets for the stolen items and deposit their monies in domiciliary accounts in banks, simply shows that there is an international conspiracy to deplete Nigeria’s resources by foreigners.
In her words, “Something is not adding up here. Where are they selling their products? The stolen products, where are they finding a market for it? What banking institutions do they use that they have not been accused of money laundering or accommodating proceeds of crime, because for some of us who do it the right way, in getting your payment in your domiciliary account anywhere in the world, you have to tell the history of the fund.
“Maritime security is very expensive and for piracy, you are talking about international waters. So if the pirates, the poachers are winning the war out there in the sea, why are they getting away with it? Is it an international conspiracy?
“So, if we are not able to face the poachers in the high sea, we should be able to force the financial institutions to be more prudent and ask questions. Where are the markets? They are in Europe, Asia and we have boldly accused them of coming into our waters and poaching our resources in the most irresponsible manner.
“They are stealing from this generation and generations unborn and you talk about fishes, like lobsters, prawns and other resources that we don’t eat are the hottest of cakes in Asian countries, like sea cucumber, these are things they steal and go.
“It’s important we keep talking until European Union and the United Nations will hear, because we need them. This is an internationally organised crime and if we can’t even effectively monitor our resources, we are entitled to our resources,” she said.
She stated that beyond illegal fishing is the irresponsible way and methods with which the poachers fish, stating that they indulge in pair trolling—a method they don’t use in their own waters.
“I don’t think some of their methods they will do that in their countries. Like pair trolling, nobody allows pair trolling because it depletes your resources”.
On the way forward, she stressed on the need to build capacity to arrest the poachers, adding that poaching is happening all over Africa, not just in Nigerian waters.
“We are trying in the area of building capacity. The regional forces are coming together to monitor our waters. I do believe that while that is going on, we also take adequate steps ashore. We should also watch what the financial institutions are doing, how are monies transferred from one country to another, proceed of that crime of illegal fishing and monitor the market.
“Where are they selling the products, because that’s one good thing with ocean resources. A prawn can tell its own story where it’s caught through analysis and you get all these information”, she ended.