The Federal Government has alerted Nigerians that smugglers are beginning to flood the markets with harmful frozen fish illegally imported into the country through land borders.
This was revealed by the Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri while speaking at the Abuja headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).
According to him, the harmful frozen fish include tilapia, red pacus, river bream, pangassius, horse mackerel, sardine and croaker.
The Minister noted that those involved in the act were undermining the efforts of government despite the fish importation policy and ban of frozen farmed fish importation into the country.
He lamented that the circulation of unhealthy fish and fishery products in Nigerian market had resulted in grave health implications such as kidney disease and cancer.
“It has become necessary for the Federal Government through the FMARD to address the Nigerian public on the sale of smuggled unhealthy frozen fish, especially farmed tilapia, in Nigeria. These smuggled frozen fish are very harmful to the health of Nigerians” he said.
The minister therefore warned those involved in the illegal importation to desist, as anyone caught will be made to face the full wrath of the law adding that the government had been collaborating with countries in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria Customs Service, maritime police, Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Agriculture Quarantine Service.
“The ministry is using this medium to warn all those involved, colluding, aiding and abetting these nefarious activities to stop or face the full wrath of the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Importation of fish without licence attracts five-year imprisonment or a fine of $250,000, or both, in addition to forfeiture and destruction of the vessel and its products” he vowed
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture has put in place measures to arrest, detain and prosecute offenders as provided in the Sea Fisheries Act Cap S4 laws of the Federation 2004. Such persons will be dealt with as criminals and economic saboteurs” he stated.