Dr. Dakuku Peterside, Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has challenged stakeholders in the maritime industry to protect the marine environment from alien invasive species conveyed into Nigeria’s territorial waters as ballast water from ships.
Speaking at a meeting held by members of the National Task Force for the Implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention 2004 in Lagos, Peterside restated the Agency’s commitment to ensuring sustainability of the environment.
He called on stakeholders to be mindful of activities that could lead to the deterioration of the marine environment.
He said: “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”.
A statement issued by NIMASA’s head of Corporate Communications, Hajia Lami Tumaka, quoted the DG as saying 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: “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 workplan 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.
Earlier in his address, Professor Babajide Alo, Chairman of the National Task Force and former Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, observed that the issues of invasive species had become worrisome stating that studies have shown that water hyacinth invasion in Nigeria for instance, was as a result of a fertilizer industry in Lome 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.
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.