Shoals of poisonous fishes on the market?
The general public is alerted to watch fish they purchase in the markets to consume, as the likelihood of them feeding on some of the potentially poisonous dolphins, and other species of fish cannot entirely be ruled out.
This follows information that a shoal of fish, numbering about 132, that washed ashore at Bewire, close to Axim, on Sunday, April 4 are still with the residents. Again, videos and pictures have gone viral showing some people cutting and smoking some of the dolphins as they would for a normal catch for sale.
The Nzema East Municipal Assembly, in a release which recounted the event, explained that an eyewitness told a team it sent to the scene that “the mammals were washed ashore alive and were about 200, but residents who were around at that time they appeared started to attack, killed and sent some home for domestic and commercial purposes.”
“The team retrieved 68 dolphins from the shore. Out of these, 30 were alive and 38 were dead. “The team released the live dolphins into the ocean and buried the dead ones at the assembly’s refuse disposal site. The remaining 132 are still in the hands of the residents,” the statement, signed by the Nzema East Municipal Assembly Co-ordinating Director, Daniel Bentum Essel, stated.
The Assembly, due to that, has intensified its public education and sensitisation, cautioning the general public to desist from consuming the fish washed ashore.
Their explanation, which does not contradict that of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture, was that the cause of death had not been established.
“The Assembly, with the help of the NIB, police, the Environmental Health Officer and chief fishermen, is currently assisting in investigations to retrieve the remaining fishes sent home by some individuals for domestic and commercial purposes.”
The Assembly’s release urged the public to volunteer information on all suspected cases of possession or selling fishes washed ashore to the relevant institutions.
“Those who, by mistake, have already consumed some of the fishes are, therefore, entreated to avail themselves for medical screening and treatment to deal with any adverse medical conditions that may arise,” the statement urged.
The sector Minister, Mavis Hawa Koomson, has also, in a statement, indicated that the necessary steps were being taken to “protect the fisheries industry from the potential harmful effects of this incident.”
Her statement also announced the launch of an inter-agency investigation into the incident. The agencies to be part are the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Fisheries Commission, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Ghana Maritime Authority, Ghana Navy, Marine Police, and the respective district assemblies.
“The investigations will determine the causes of the incidents and possible preventive measures for the future,” said the statement.
However, the FDA has already warned the citizenry against the consumption of any of these fishes, dispatching inspection teams to fish markets to prevent the washed-ashore fish from entering into the food chain.
Meanwhile, the Director of Public Health with the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), Florence Kuunyi, has told the media that some of the fishes washed ashore at the Osu Beach have been buried.
She also said that some of the fishes are already in homes and market places, but the ones they found when her team visited the beach have all been buried at the seashore.
“In Axim, there was this collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Intelligence Bureau (NIB), the police and the Fisheries Commission, who came together to bury them at the seashore,” Mrs Kuunyi stated.
Over the weekend, about 60 dead and alive dolphins were washed ashore on the beach at Axim-Bewire in the Nzema East Municipality of the Western Region, while Keta and Osu in the Volta and Greater Accra regions also experienced similar incidents.
Speculations were that the sea creatures may have been poisoned in their natural habitat, a report which is yet to be substantiated by the authorities.