Fishermen operating in the Atlantic shoreline in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria have attributed the current fish scarcity in the area to the frequent oil spills from the Qua Iboe oil fields.

The coastal communities near the Qua Iboe oil export terminal operated by Mobil Producing Nigeria in Ibeno, Akwa Ibom, experienced periodic oil spills in the last six months.

The fishermen under the aegis of Artisan Fishermen Association of Nigeria (ARFAN), said the incessant spills had made the fish to migrate into the deep sea where their members could not reach.

Rev. Samuel Ayadi, the association’s Chairman in Akwa Ibom, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Eket that fishermen now required higher capacity outboard engines to operate in the deep sea.

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He said, “We now go as far as Bonny in Rivers before we can get crayfish and Bonga fish.

“And you can only get there with high capacity outboard engines of 40 horse-power and above, which most of our members cannot afford.

“The few people who have it spend so much money in fueling the engines with very little catch, so they place high prices on the little catch to recover high cost of fuel.

“That is why fish is scarce. When you spend money to fuel the outboard engines, you have to sell it at higher prices to recover your expenses, otherwise you will operate at a loss.

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“You need about 150 litres of fuel to power a 40 horse-power outboard engine for a trip where you have to contend with the industrial trawlers and on a bad day, you come back empty.”