By DAPO OLAWUNI
Former Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Barr Temisan Omatseye has made a case for indigenous fishing trawlers, alleging that many of them are being attacked at sea by International offshore shipping vessels, and are prevented from carrying out their business.
Omatseye stated this in Lagos last week at the maiden edition of the Maritime Annual Lecture organised by the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN)
The former NIMASA boss called for the establishment of a fishing terminal where fishing trawlers can get bunkered and other requirements.
Speaking on the attacks on Trawlers, Omatseye stressed the need for security agencies to engage the coastal communities because they are first point of intelligence.
According to him, the The Deep Blue Project of the Federal government which seeks to protect the Nigerian maritime space, cannot be successful without intelligence from the local community,
He said “One of the situations we have in fisheries right now, is a situation whereby our trawlers who are going out for deep-sea trawling, are being attacked by International offshore shipping vessels because they don’t want them out there.
“This is also due to the fact that Trawlers are not provided bunkers and other requirements, what they do is go out there with cash, in most cases they are attacked and their cash stolen.
“This is why Nigeria needs a fishing terminal where shipping Trawlers can have their fuel, and whatever they need, in order to go out there do their trawling and come back.
“The Marine Police are like weaklings, do you know that constitutionally, they have powers up to three Nautical Miles, but they do not know their heads from their tail.
“In the good old days, marine police are in the villages in Delta and Warri, they take care of the coastal area, but now we don’t see them anymore, the only ones we manage to see are at Awolowo road in Lagos and only God knows what they are doing there.
“There is need to engage the coastal communities, they are the ones that would act as first point of intelligence. The Deep Blue Project cannot be successful without intelligence from these people, you cannot cover the whole of 90,000 square kilometers, it is not humanly possible”