Seafood prices soar as sea pirates lay siege to A’Ibom waters

The global seafood market has opened up a huge opportunity for Nigerian seafood agripreneurs to explore owing to the global demand for seafood such as prawns and prawns. Weigh in on the potential of the seafood market.

Data revealed by the Federal Department of Fisheries indicates that prawns and prawns have an inshore production of 17,654 metric tons per year, Nigerian prawn is also widely produced in the Niger Delta and it is the second largest brackish habitat in the world.

Unfortunately, the atrocious socio-economic crisis which is hitting hard in practically all sectors of the national economy has led to an increase in the rate of crimes orchestrated by unemployed young people, who have resorted to illegality as a habitual pastime in the State of Akwa Ibom Affecting Business.

For example, shrimp is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and the antioxidant astaxanthin which helps promote heart and brain health, shrimp is also a very good source of protein and is rich in vitamins and minerals .

Furthermore, the global value of prawns and prawns alone, in the seafood industry, is estimated to be around $39 billion and is expected to reach $68 billion by 2027, unfortunately, may not be reached in because of growing insecurity.

Seemingly concerned about the activities of thugs who have a habit of violating the peace and tranquility the 34-year-old state has enjoyed over the years, the state’s Governor, Udom Emmanuel, since his administration was established in 2015, placed great importance on the safety of lives, property and investments.

According to the governor, who had worked in partnership with the police, army, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), Department of State Services (DSS) and other paramilitary agencies to combat crimes during the last two years. years, “the peaceful nature of our dear state has ranked Akwa Ibom among the states with the highest foreign direct investment (FDI)”.

Corroborating this, police say the huge investments in security by the Governor Emmanuel-led administration have boosted the fighting spirit of officers and men to bring the fighting crimes into the dens of criminals across the 31 local government areas.

However, checks by our correspondent revealed that while cases of armed robbery, including petty crimes such as shoplifting, burglary, rape, worship and other miscellaneous crimes, drastically diminished, waterways spread to coastal communities of Uruan, Mbo, Esit Eket, Eastern Obolo, Ibeno and Oron LGA were taken over by sea pirates.

A local fisherman, Bassey Ekpo, who fishes on Akwa-akpa (big river) in Uruan LGA, said: “The sea pirates have stopped us from doing business, we can no longer enter our waters to fish because of constant attacks and thefts. by sea pirates.

Regarding coastal crimes, he said over the past two months: “Several fishermen and travelers in Cameroon have been robbed, kidnapped and others killed or missing with several boats and outboard motors seized, even with some of the boats allowed to float on the high seas without control,” he lamented.

Meanwhile, seafood vendors and traders at Oron Beach and Seafood Market, as well as Nwaniba Beach and Ishiet Market in Uruan LGAs, have expressed their dismay at the frequent disruption of their main livelihoods.

“The thugs’ activities have deeply affected our operations as we no longer buy fish and other seafood in the quantity we expected.

“Due to this problem, which has become almost daily, seafood like fish, crayfish, shrimp, especially in this fishing season, has been scarce with high prices,” said Akan Ukpong, a popular fishmonger of Inagha.

Furthermore, Madame Bessy Akpan, said that her fresh fish business has declined “because I can no longer afford to buy the normal kilogram of Inagha fish that I can comfortably supply to my customers; I can’t even buy half of what I used to buy”.

She recalled that “many times I had to go home without buying a single fish due to the scarcity of items in the markets”.

Another trader who sells crayfish, Ms Peace Umoh, lamented that “the situation is so pathetic that one might just leave home hoping to buy quality crayfish for their customers and end up going home without nothing”.

Due to the relentless attacks and fear of being killed, Mbakara Inyang, a ferry operator to Cameroon, said shipping services have been disrupted following “frequent kidnappings of our men and passenger flights”.

“Because of the problem, women cannot go to the seaside to get enough sea items,” he said.

Similarly, the seafood market at Ishiet Market in Uruan LGA is now deserted with few buyers and sellers negotiating and interacting amid soaring prices, increasing cases of attacks by criminals and the need for the government to fight the scourge.

What increased the criminal activities of thugs, according to an Uruan LGA community leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was when a prominent man, who owned a resort in Uruan, was kidnapped, but unfortunately killed.

He said the killings forced the Nigerian Navy to look into the matter.

He recalled that “navy personnel opened an attack on another group of thugs and vice versa.

“Since then, there has been fighting, unrest and tension inside the waters, which makes it difficult for the fishermen to carry out their duties, resulting in a shortage of the items, which also affects merchants and end users,” he said.

Akwa Ibom State Police Command, following a distress call, according to the PPRO, Odiko Macdon in a statement on the raging issue ensured police intervention.

The Commissioner of Police (SP), in a statement in Uyo, the state capital, said, “From the Chairman of Uruan Local Government Area, Hon. Iniobong Ekpeyong, Command received a distress call that a boat carrying fish traders from Ishiet market in Adiadia community, had been attacked and its occupants abducted by sea pirates along the canal of Uruan water.

“The Commissioner of Police (CP), Olatoye Durosinmi, has mobilized tactical teams and the command’s maritime police to pursue the thugs.

“The Akwa Ibom State Marine Police, who were tracking the thugs, closed in on them after an aggressive search, forcing the evil men to abandon their victims in the streams, after stealing various sums of money from them. money, by chewing two. They also burned one of their motorboats.

“The victims were successfully rescued and brought to Akwa Ibom State Police Headquarters and those in need of medical attention were taken to the Police Clinic for treatment.

“CP Durosinmi had visited Nwaniba beach and Ishiet market in Adadia community in Uruan LGA in the company of the LGA chairman, where he met with community leaders and youths, assuring them that the police did not ‘will spare no resources to protect lives and property in the State.

“The CP urged them to continue cooperating with security agencies and report to them criminal and suspicious elements around their locality or call one of the command emergency hotlines: 08039213071 or 08189243935.”

The president of the Adadia Boat Drivers Association, Chief Ekong Bassey, recalled that the pirates, numbering about 12, attacked four boats at the Ekeya fishing camp, robbed all the passengers on board, kidnapped nine engines from 40 horses and set fire to one of the boats.

Expressing his displeasure with the incident, Chief Bassey lamented that “it is one of the main challenges fishermen face in their industry”.

“Many women, who move from one fishing camp to another, have been raped and robbed by sea criminals,” he added.

He therefore appealed to the relevant authorities to come to their aid because “it has affected the smooth running of their businesses and made life difficult for ordinary people in these difficult times”.

One of the victims, Mr Usen Sunday, who described the experience as horrific, said that “navigating from Issiet beach to Oron and Cameroon, has become difficult for us because we are subjected to horrible experiences during the trip ashore”.

It was found that despite police action, the activities of the sea pirates continued unabated, leaving ordinary traders at the mercy of their cash, which they said “we started using the capital due to lack of business and profits. ”

“We call on federal and state governments to harmonize and deploy more security agencies and gunboats, to protect coastal communities so we can resume operations,” they implored.

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