Foundation urges FG, State to strengthen protection regulations on marine species

The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) has called on the Federal and Lagos State Governments to strengthen regulations on marine species protection to prevent extinction of some fishes.

NCF’s Director, Technical Programmes, Dr Joseph Onoja, said in Lagos on Sunday that marine species were important to the ecosystem because it provided nutrition for over three billion people globally.

He explained that the oceans regulated climate, released oxygen for humans to breathe fresh air while absorbing carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.

“The world’s over three billion people actually rely on the marine for their sustenance; so, it is a major contributor and has been over the ages to the wellbeing of people.

“It is something that we really need to take serious as humans because if we take out marine, a lot of people would lose out their livelihoods.

“Most of us feed on fishes from the marine environment. So without marine, most lives would be in jeopardy,’’ he said.

The market value of marine and coastal resources and related industries is estimated at US$3 trillion per year, about 5% of global GDP.

Alarmingly, despite its critical importance, life below water faces many threats, amongst them an area of primary concern for Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which is their unsustainable exploitation for international trade.

Over 30% of commercially exploited marine fish stocks are overfished.

Onoja lamented the killing of Sea Turtles which were among endangered species that protected fishes by eating major predators that feeds on fish.

He said that Sea Turtles would usually come to the beach to lay eggs but were being killed and their eggs harvested out of ignorance and sold.

“As we are killing Sea Turtles, we are increasing the number of predators on the fish population and if they (Sea Turtles) are not there in the food value chain, predators will eat up more fish species and that would lead to scarcity of fish,’’ he said.

Onoja also lamented poor refuse management and plastic pollution affecting underwater animals feeding on them, transferring the health problems to humans who consumed sea animals.

He called for implementation and enforcement of existing federal and states laws that focused on protection and preservation of marine lives, as well as interagency cooperation to solve the problems.

Onoja said that the foundation was creating awareness in communities in line with the Endangered Species Act, to stop killing of endangered sea and land animals nationwide.

He said Lagos was enjoying several aquatic benefits but could achieve more by strengthening marine regulations and eco-tourism.

“One of the areas Lagos can harness the benefits of being a coastal city is in terms of eco-tourism. It can regulate the use of its beaches and how they are operated. Lagos can also explore the easy water transportation.”

He said that activities on the beach front should be well regulated to promote eco tourism and yield more revenue to the state government.

“All over the world, what they call beach front properties are usually in five areas but how that is done in a sustainable manner with the environment in mind is very important.

“Now, I can say it is not well regulated, when it is well regulated, then, it will benefit the environment and the state government and the people that live there. But if it is not well done, it will be a problem because the degradation would be so much on the environment.''

The World Wildlife Day is celebrated globally on March 3 and the 2019 celebration focuses on attention on marine wildlife to create global awareness on their importance and tackle critical challenges facing marine ecosystems.

On 20 December 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) decided to proclaim 3 March, the day of the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world's wild fauna and flora.

The World Wildlife Day 2019, with the theme 'Life below water: for people and planet', aligns closely with the Sustainable Development Goal 14 – Life below water, which focuses on marine species, will highlight the critical issues and values of marine wildlife to our everyday lives.

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