A University Don and a one time Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Professor Babajide Alo, has stated that invasion of water hyacinth witnessed in Nigeria is due to the releasing of waste into the sea by a fertiliser industry based in Lome, Togo.
According to a statement signed on Tuesday by the Deputy Director, Public Relations of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Hajia Lami Tumaka, the former UNILAG Don stated this during a meeting in Lagos between the Director General of NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Peterside, and members of the National Task Force for the Implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention 2004 headed by Professor Babajide Alo.
According to the statement, “Chairman of the National Task Force, Professor Babajide Alo, explained that the issues of invasive species on Nigeria’s water bodies have become worrisome.
According to him, “studies have shown that water hyacinth invasion in Nigeria, for instance, was as a result of a fertiliser industry in Lome, Togo, 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.
In his address, Dr Peterside called upon stakeholders to protect the marine environment from alien invasive species that are conveyed into Nigeria’s territorial waters as ballast water from ships.
He 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 NIMASA DG also called on stakeholders to be mindful of activities that could lead to the deterioration of the marine environment.
In his own words, “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.”
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.
Dr. 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. NIMASA is therefore committed to ensuring that the Ballast Water Management Convention 2004 is implemented in Nigeria.”
The DG charged members of the Task Force to develop a policy and work plan for the implementation of the Ballast Water Management Roadmap for Ballast Water Movement in Nigeria, which would ultimately protect the environment from alien invasive species.
It would be recalled that Nigeria was one of the first eight countries that adopted the Ballast Water Management Convention 2004 and it is the 14th leading country in the GEF-UNDO-IMO Globallast partnership, a group set up by the IMO to give technical support to other member states on the implementation of the convention.