Fishermen applaud CBN on forex restriction
… call for payment of $3.96bn compensation
Artisanal fisher- men in the Niger- Delta region has commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for restricting foreign exchange from fish importers.
Samuel Ayadi, the Niger Delta coordinator of Artisan Fishermen Association of Ni- geria (ARFAN), made the com- mendation when he spoke with the News Agency of Ni- geria in Yenagoa on Tuesday.
Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor, on Thursday last week, announced the re- striction of foreign exchange for certain categories of im- ported goods.
He, however, reminded the government that the House of Representatives and National Oil Spills De- tection and Response Agen- cy (NOSDRA) had in De- cember 2014 recommended a compensation of $3.96 billion for victims of oil spills incident in the Niger Delta.
According to the apex bank, henceforth importers of products that can be produced in Nigeria, including rice, fish, toothpick, among others, will be denied foreign exchange.
Ayadi, reacting to the an- nouncement, said given the nation’s maritime resources, Nigeria had no reason to be importing fish from other countries, and urged the CBN to take urgent steps to encourage the banking sys- tem to channel the financial support required to support the fishing sub-sector of ag- riculture to fill the gap.
According to him, the fish- ing sub-sector has remained neglected by the three tiers of government, resulting to its stunted growth as they remain within the coastline, unable to launch into the Nigerian territorial waters.
“The artisanal fishermen are peasant men and women using traditional canoes and small outboard engine pow- ered-fishing-boats. We are constrained to operate within the inland waterways and close to the shorelines,’’ he said.
The fishermen lacked the capacity to launch into the Nigerian territorial waters, Ayadi said, which he said was 200 nautical miles from the coastline.
“This is because we can- not afford high capacity outboard engines to embark on deep sea fishing. We now have a situation where foreign fishing vessels are coming into the territory reserved for us by interna- tional laws.
“We need the support of the banks and we call on the CBN to go further and direct the banks to support the Nigerian fishermen,” he said, and urged the government to ensure that the maritime environment was sanitised from frequent oil spills.
The oil spills posed great danger to the fishing occu- pation, which employed the teeming coastal settlements in Nigeria, he said.
According to him, frequent oil spills from oil and gas ex- plorations impact negatively on the fishing settlements in coastal communities.
He appealed to the Fed- eral Government to address the outstanding compensa- tion on the Bonga Oil Spill incident of 2011, to salvage the fishing sector.
An oil spill incident from an offshore field operated by Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO) discharged some 40,000 barrels of crude that polluted the Atlantic and compelled fishermen to desert the sea.
The House of Repre- sentatives and National Oil Spills Detection and Re- sponse Agency (NOSDRA) had in December 2014 rec- ommended a compensation of $3.96 billion for victims of the incident.
The fisherman noted that refusal by the company to pay $3.96 billion compensa- tion directed by NOSDRA had crippled the sector and reduced fish supply, saying if Shell was prevailed on to compensate the fishermen, the sector would receive a new lease of life.
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