4 April 2019

Gambia: Dead Dolphin, Turtle Washed Ashore On Gunjur Beach

The carcasses of two Marine mammal species were on Monday found on the Gunjur beach. This is the second time the carcasses of these two species are found on the shores of the Gunjur.

And the proximity of where these carcasses were found is close to the Fishmeal Plants or Factories. Environmentalists have accused Fishmeal Factories operating in the area, of polluting the waters of the nearby coast, which is causing the death of these marine animals.

The Fishmeal Factories also faced accusations from the communities of polluting the waters of nearby lagoons with toxic chemicals, which has caused damage to the environment including women gardens and the demise of crustaceans.

The coastal land area of Gunjur has three fishmeal processing plants which were earlier closed down by the National Environmental Agency, for unleashing toxic waste in the Ocean. The factories now claim that everything that is coming from their factories, are treated and contains no chemical waste. This however is still doubted by many within these communities were the plants operate.

Lamin Bah who first found the carcasses, said he went to the beach in the morning and found them washed ashore; that he did not know what killed them, and he is also worried about the rate of carcasses of marine mammals that frequently washes ashore, on their beaches; that this is becoming frequent nowadays.

Kawsu Jammeh of the Department of Parks and Wildlife, said they are not aware of the carcass of any dead dolphin or turtle that has been washed ashore on the beach at Gunjur. Jammeh said marine turtles utilize the beaches to lay their eggs; but that because of ongoing activities on beaches, this made them disappear; that their lives have been threatened. He said fishermen have contributed in killing these endangered species; that when they are caught, the turtles eventually end up being killed.

Ahmed Manjang a Micro-Biologist, said the phenomenon has been common on the shores of our beaches for the past two years; that when this happens, the authorities should be informed to investigate the cause of death of these endangered species; that the death of these marine species was not common before the Fishmeal Factories came into being. Manjang is of the view that the waste water from these Fishmeal Factories is not processed; that it is dumped into sea like that, which can cause the death of these marine species.

Manjang said that other possibilities can cause the death of these marine mammals; that the intense fishing activities going on in our waters, can also disturb them that the big ones can be entangled and trapped in the nets and die, and can be later found dead and washed ashore. He said a turtle that is trapped in fishing nets, dies in a matter of a few hours, if it is not rescued; that turtles cannot survived underwater for long, without resurfacing to fill in their air pockets with fresh air.

Manjang said they have carried out tests which showed that the wastes is toxic and carsinogenic; that because of nitrogen and phosphorous content of the waste water from these Fishmeal Factories, unregulated growth of algae on the Ocean floor can happen, which can also suffocate marine life.

Manjang indicated that when there is too much algae in the sea, it reduces the oxygen content of the water in its immediate surrounding; that when this happens, shell fish which cannot dive to get oxygen elsewhere, can die; that this creates an imbalance in the Eco system.

It could recall that the National Environmental Agency has said Fishmeal factories operating in the country, have waste water treatment facilities. However, many environmental activists continue to believe that the waste water from the Fishmeal factories is nor given the proper treatment it deserves; that the untreated waste water coming from these Fishmeal factories, can lead to the death of marine life.

This reporter will reach the NEA for comment.


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