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 encouragement of the ocean, termed oceanification.
A lecturer in the Department of Political Science, Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Amassoma, Bayelsa State, Professor Ambily Etekpe, disclosed this 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, held at the Federated Correspondents’ Chapel Secretariat, Yenagoa, yesterday.
According to Prof Etekpe who was also the chairman of the occassion, said there was the urgent need for concerted efforts and campaigns towards creating awareness for ocean encroachment just like desertification, stressing that ocean encroachment needs national and international interests.
He blame the oil exploration activities of the the multinational oil companies whom he lamented have move their operations offshore into the sea with its attendant negative impacts on the environment.
Etekpe said: “Desertification is equivalent to oceanification but while nobody talks about oceanification, desertification is taking not only national but international interest.
“Oceanification has become a 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 percent of our communities live by the ocean and if they are disorganized or dislocated, where else can they go.”
In remarks, the Traditional Ruler of Moko-ama Sangana Community in Akassa, Brass Local Government Area, His Royal Highness, 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 Nigeri Delta, and hope that the menace receives the attention of government and relevant agencies.
In his speech, the book author and Second Vice President, INC, 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 has become a challenge to governments at all levels, government agencies and environmental activists to draw attention to the menace and protect the the land and environment.
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 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 activities of deforestation by companies and individuals.”