No fewer than 105 coastal communities in Bayelsa State may face extinction in the next 30 years if nothing is done to halt the rampaging effects of the encroachment of the ocean, according to a university lecturer.
A lecturer in the Department of Political Science, Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Amassoma, Bayelsa State, Prof Ambily Etekpe, disclosed this on Wednesday during the unveiling and public presentation of the book titled, “Oceanification: Environmental, Ecological and Socio-Economic Impacts in Niger Delta,” written by the Second Vice-President of Ijaw National Congress (INC), Chief Nengi James in Yenagoa.
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According to Prof Etekpe, there was an urgent need for concerted efforts and campaigns towards creating awareness for ocean encroachment just like desertification, stressing that ocean encroachment needed national and international interests.
He blamed the oil exploration activities of the multinational oil companies, saying they have moved their operations offshore into the sea with its attendant negative impacts on the environment.
He said: “Desertification is equivalent to oceanification but while nobody talks about oceanification, desertification is taking not only national but international interest.
“Oceanification has become very important, the effects of ocean encroachment in Bayelsa State particularly and other states that are very close to the ocean, most of where we used to have towns and communities have been taken over by the ocean and so the towns and communities continue to shift and you find out that the extreme end of that shifting is another river.
“If something is not done, in the next 30 years, a lot of our towns and communities will be taken over by the ocean.
“In Bayelsa State, we have over 500 communities and out of that, 105, representing 46 per cent of our communities, live by the ocean and if they are disorganized or dislocated, where else can they go?” He said.
In his remarks, the traditional ruler of Moko-ama Sangana Community in Akassa, Brass Local Government Area, King Moses Theophilus, who formally unveiled the book, commended Chief Nengi James for the bold and apt submission of issues recorded in the book as it affects the coastal communities in the Niger Delta, and hope that the menace receives the attention of the government and relevant agencies.
The author of the book, Chief Nengi James, said he was inspired to write on the effects of ocean encroachment following years of observation, studies and research on coastal communities across the Niger Delta region.
According to the author, the effects of ocean encroachment had become a challenge to the governments at all levels, government agencies and environmental activists.
He said: “The term oceanification is used to illustrate the encroachment of the ocean on both non-human and man’s existence. In this case, it has continued to wash away farmlands, communities and related infrastructure, renders people homeless particularly in communities around the fringes of the ocean and seas.
“Oceanification is being instigated by the multinational oil and gas companies operating offshore of the region, and it is also linked with the aggressive activities of deforestation by companies and individuals.”