BY Kebba AF Touray and Yankuba Jallow
Mr. Muhammad Jadama, the Senior Program Officer of the National Environment Agency, has pointed out that a fishing company in Gunjur has flouted the country’s environmental regulations.
He made this statement during an interview with this reporter at his office on Wednesday 31/05/2017.
He said the result is the discharge of waste water in the environment as well as the obnoxious smell from the process. He said this was brought to their notice by the community watch-dogs that the investors are discharging the waste water to the ocean, upon which they wasted no time in visiting the site and took the necessary actions. He said one of the conditions given to the investors is that they were not supposed to discharge waste water from the factory into water bodies. Following that, they had a meeting with the stakeholders (Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Fisheries, Ministry of Environment and the NEA) to show them (investors) the need to respect the environmental laws. He said that they (NEA) refused to renew their( Fishing company) license, adding they did not meet some of the requirements, which is done annually, failure of which they will be operating illegally; that they are trying to put some charges against them for violating the NEA Act. Currently he said, they are trying to make sure that the waste that is discharged from the factory to the sea does not have any chemical and that is why they went with some members of the hazardous management to ascertain that.
Talking on the results of the sampling, he revealed that most of the perameters that they were looking for are normal, except for some of the standards such as sulphate and ammonium, adding they have surpassed their standards. He cited that the PH is ok, but are concerned with sulphur and ammonium and they are trying to see what could be done about them.
On environmental protection, he said the operations of the fishing company is guided by laws and the company has to act within that framework to ensure that the environment is protected and laws are enforced as is their (NEA) mandate, and this he added can be done through monitoring, “this is why we are not resting on our oars’’, he cited. He said they have recommended to the company to employ an Environmentalist who will be advising them on environmental issues so that they will not fall in the same problem again. He reiterated that they will be taking sampling time to time to ensure that they (Fishing Company) are in compliance with the laws and standards of the country.
Mr. Jadama explained that every process has by-product which matter, adding they can be harmful or harmless. He averred that the case of pollution could be due to the process that gave rise to the waste that was discharged, because fish releases ammonium when about to decay and sulphur is also part of the gases that could be generated as the fish decomposes. Therefore, he said, the waste water that is coming from the company must have sulphur and ammonium, so the concentration of the two is what matters, and if one has 5 concentration of sulphur and ammonium and gets into the lagoon or a stagnant water, it can kill some live worms that are in there. This, he said, can take a long time to manifest those effects .He clarified that NEA would not allow them to operate, but cannot stop them from operating, noting it is not in their laws. He also emphasized that NEA can only stop them on the grounds that they (Fishing Company) don’t have license.
Jadama pointed out that the Ministry of Trade has allowed them to operate after a communiqué was sent from the Ministry of Trade to them (Fishing Company), but indicated that they are trying to build up a case and hopefully they (NEA) will take them (Fishing company) to court. He revealed that this is a multi- sectorial concern, adding that NEA, MOF,MOJ and MOT have a role to play .He affirmed that they lay the pipe on their own accord, which may have a serious reparations. Mr. Jadama finally called on all to put hands together, noting that environmental protection is a collective work.
In an earlier interview with Jojo Huang, the Director of Golden Lead Import and Export Company, she said her company produces fish oil and fish meal. She added that they buy fish from vendors and fishermen and turn them into feed meal products. She indicated that this has reduced fish spoilage caused by over fishing that used to happen, prior to the establishment of her company.
She said during the production of feed meal, they squeeze the fish to separate the water from the oil; that after the water and oil is separated, the water is drained away. She further said that they have excavated a hole where the unwanted water that is drained from the fish is kept and this hole can keep several thousands of cubic meters of this unwanted fish water.
She confirmed that at the beginning of the operation of the Company, there was a pipe that runs to the river, because too much water was used; that now they use the drainage system like that of Coco Ocean. She said there is no chemical involved in the unwanted water that is drained from the fish. She argued that many countries use this drained water from the fish to feed other fish in ponds; that this is practice in her own country, China.
According to her, the mission statement of her company is zero tolerance to any form of pollution; that this is the reason why they have stopped using the pipe to drain at sea. She said they’ve spent more than 2 million dalasi on assistance towards the people of Gunjur, as their corporate social responsibility, and they have since the year 2015 always come to their aid when needed.
Ms. Huang also said that they have 60 employees and 15 security officers from G4S Security Company, employed by them. She said they have received advice from National Environment Agency (NEA) when the latter visited their company, and they are gradually improving on some of their challenges.
She concluded by saying that her Company will always abide by the laws of the country.