‘Fishes washed ashore died of oxygen related stress’ – Reg. Maritime Uni Vice Chancellor

Vice Chancellor of the Regional Maritime University, Professor Elvis Nyako, has disclosed that the fishes washed ashore at most of Accra’s beaches last week died out of stress.

Professor Nyako in an interview with Power News Friday night corroborated the findings of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture which indicated the death of the hundreds of fishes was related to stress.

“The deaths could be due to oxygen-depletion related stress referred to as hypoxia.  So, yes the Fisheries Minister is very right that stress led to the mass fish deaths along our coastline and this stress is related to oxygen depletion below the thermocline leading to massive fish deaths including dolphins,” Prof Nyako told Power News’ Piesie Okrah.

“Hypoxic events occur frequently in the Gulf of Mexico along the US coast, Wadden Sea and even in Togo,” he said. “Hypoxic  events are commonly triggered by eutrophication.”

He further explained that when much fertilizer (large quantities waste) enter the sea, the level of oxygen that supports aquatic life reduces which lead to stress among fishes including the dolphins that were washed ashore at Axim in the Western Region.

Professor Nyako, who has been doing such researches for the past two decades, also indicated that the level of waste that enters the Gulf of Guinea from Ghana has increased tremendously and has become dangerous for the fishes.

“The abundance of decaying plant material falling on the seabed severely reduces the oxygen concentration in the bottom waters, and most benthic or bottom- dwelling animals are killed due to suffocation as a result of the low oxygen content in the water column, with some managing to escape through,” Prof. Nyako added.

To him, authorities must have an achievable plan to avert much waste from entering the sea especially at the coastline in the Greater Accra Region to help prevent hypoxia.

Earlier this week, the Fisheries Commission revealed that its preliminary investigations into what led to the death of the fishes pointed to stress factors.

The Head of Fish Health Unit at the Fisheries Commission, Dr. Peter Zedah told Citi News further tests were being conducted for further clarity but the stress was conspicuous from their initial investigations.

“Our initial investigations have proven that the fishes died as a result of some stress factors. For the [exact] stress factors, we are still investigating,” he said.

“Whether they were poisonous or not, we cannot tell because the other people are doing some pesticide testing.”

FDA Surveillance

Meanwhile, the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has said it has intensified public education at various markets along the country’s coast after dozens of dolphins and various other fish species were washed up at Osu and Axim during the weekend.

Whilst authorities have warned against eating the dolphins and the fish species,  as it not yet clear what caused their deaths, FDA was able to retrieve some of the dead fishes from a local market at Osu in the Korle Klottey Municipality.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the FDA Delese Mimi Darko who disclosed this to Morning Update host, Eric Ahianyo, on TV XYZ did not tell the number of the unwholesome fishes that were taken from local fish mongers and destroyed.

“We had some education; we did a lot of education; we managed even to take some [of the fishes] that had already gotten to some of them [market women]. in fact what had gotten to them, we managed to take and it was destroyed immediately yesterday,” Madam Darko said as she briefed Ghanaians on what they were doing to ensure food safety in Accra and its environs.

She said after the FDA received reports of the fishes that had been washed ashore, the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency, the Police and the Fisheries Ministry went to the Osu Castle beach to commence investigations into the matter.

“Immediately we left the shores in Accra, we went to the neighbouring markets together with the Korle Klottey Municipal Assembly,” she said “the FDA has been working with the Municipal Assemblies, the EPA and the police.”



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