Residents along the Atlantic coast in Akwa Ibom have decried frequent spills at the Qua Iboe Oil Fields, operated by Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN). A major oil spill was reported near the Akwa Ibom coastline on December 19.
It will be recalled that separate spills had occurred at the oil field on Aug. 13, Aug. 24. Nov. 9, and Dec. 19. Reacting to the development in separate interviews with NAN on Tuesday, the residents said that incessant spills in the area had destroyed fishing at the coastal communities.
Chief Inyang Ekong, Secretary, Akwa Ibom State Chapter of the Artisan Fishermen Association of Nigeria, said the impact of spills on the fishing communities in Southern Akwa Ibom had led to dwindling fortunes for fishermen.
"The spill seriously contaminated the waters, causing fish drought and distorting the marine food chain because of the toxic chemicals the oil company uses to disperse the oil. Whenever a spill occurs, fishermen are thrown out of business because when the waters become toxic, fishes migrate from the reach of fishermen and for you to have any catch you have to go beyond Nigeria's territorial waters at the mercy of the Cameroon gendarmes.
"The first thing we do is to instruct our members to withdraw from fishing to avoid catching contaminated fish and we have asked Mobil to compensate us for the lost income within the period they are cleaning the spill," Ekong said.
Chief John Etim, a community leader in Ibeno Local Government Area, noted that the frequent spills were depriving the communities their economic rights. He said that the frequent spills had impoverished the fishing communities along the coastline.