Ilorin- Prof. Chioma Nzeh of the Department of Zoology, University of Ilorin, on Friday said the nation was losing about 60 million dollars to illegal fishing activities in its territorial waters.
Nzeh, a professor of Zoology made the disclosure in her paper at the 128th inaugural lecture of the University of Ilorin entitled: ``Dwindling Fish Stocks : Aquaculture and Sustainable Food Security’’.
She said that fish stocks in Nigeria and other African countries were depleting rapidly due to the presence of those she described as the ``rappers and pillagers of the environment’’.
The don, who said, ``the nation is importing over 200 million dollars worth of seafood products annually to supplement local production,’’ expressed regrets that ``illegal fishing costs African countries over one billion dollars yearly.’’
She disclosed that Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing activities had threaten efforts to secure long term sustainable fisheries and promote healthier and more robust ecosystems.
Nzeh said that developing countries, often with limited technical capacity, bear the brunt of IUU fishing which undermines their limited efforts to manage fisheries.
She said that IUU fishing activities was denying developing nations some revenue and ``adversely affects their attempts to promote food security, eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development.''
She said that West Africa had been recognised as one of the world’s richest fisheries grounds teeming with snapper, grouper, sardines, mackerel and shrimp.
Nzeh regretted the loss of over 1 billion dollars worth of fish each year in the unprotected zones.
``Another factor contributing to dwindling fish stocks in both marine and fresh water environments is climate change,’’ she said.
The expert therefore appealed to the Federal Government to reduce illegal fishing by providing security on the waterways to prevent pirate attacks on trawlers.
``Government must insist foreign trawlers operating in Nigerian waters should land a percentage of fish in our country,’’ she said.
The professor also urged industries that generate waste with high concentration of pollutants to install a pre-treatment system to remove the toxic components.