Artisanal fishermen association of Nigeria(ARFAN) on Friday appealed to the government to prevail on Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO), to pay the $3.6 billion fine imposed by the oil industry regulators over the 2011 Bonga oilfield spill.
The association also asked the Federal Government to leverage on its successes in containing the COVID-19 pandemic to avert another lockdown in the new year.
The fishermen noted that they were yet to recover from the adverse impact of the 2020 lockdown on the fisheries’ sector, and lamented that they were excluded from the palliatives given to the agric sector to guarantee food security.
Samuel Ayadi, Coordinator of ARFAN in the Niger Delta, said that another lockdown following the spread of the coronavirus would be unbearable for fishermen.
Ayadi noted that the fishermen had suffered untold hardship fishing at the nation’s territorial waters since 2011 when an equipment failure from the Bonga Offshore field operated by SNEPC discharged some 40,000 barrels of crude into the waters.
He noted that having complied with a regulatory order by NOSDRA to pull out of fishing to avoid catch contaminated fish that could compromise public health, they deserved to be indemnified for loss of income whilst the clean up lasted.
NODRA had in March 2015 imposed the fine on Shell for discharging 40,000 barrels of crude into the Atlantic Ocean on December 20, 2011.
The fine comprised a $1.8 billion as compensation for the damages done to natural resources and consequential loss of income by the affected shoreline communities as well as a punitive damage of $1.8 billion.
Following a legal action instituted by Shell, at a Federal High Court in Lagos, Trial judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun on June 20, 2018 dismissed the suit challenging the imposing of $3.6 billion fine on it by NOSDRA.