The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside has charged stakeholders in the marine sector to develop a policy and workplan that will protect the Nigerian maritime environment from alien invasive species.
He gave the charge during the meeting of the members of the National Task Force for the Implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention 2004 in Lagos recently.
Peterside restated NIMASA’s commitment towards ensuring that the sustainability of the environment is always at the front burner while shipping activities are carried out in the country.
“The long years of exploitation and exploration of available resources in our marine environment has made it fragile but we have a responsibility of ensuring that the environment remains sustainable for the generations yet unborn,” he said.
The DG noted that while vessels carry ballast water for stability, the water and sediments therein have become a platform for the conveyance of alien invasive species into our environment which makes it mandatory for the Agency to tackle this menace in line with IMO regulations.
Peterside said that “ballast water and the sediments therein have become a platform for conveyance of invasive aquatic species into our environment which could be dangerous in the long run hence the need to tackle the scourge head on before it becomes uncontrollable.
He added that “NIMASA is therefore committed to ensuring that the Ballast Water Management Convention 2004 is implemented in Nigeria”.
Babajide Alo, Chairman of the National Task Force and former Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, observed that the issues of invasive species had become worrisome stating that studies have shown that water hyacinth invasion in Nigeria for instance, was as a result of a fertilizer industry in Lome which normally pumps its waste into the sea.
He therefore advised that Nigeria has to take a holistic approach to the issue by considering the entire Gulf of Guinea while seeking solutions to tackle the menace.
Nigeria was one of the first eight countries that adopted the Ballast Water Management Convention 2004.