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Minister decries lack of marine protected areas in Nigeria

Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor says with more than 11,600 square kilometre coastline between Cross River and Lagos State, Nigeria does not have adequate Marine Protected Areas.

She said less than one per cent of Nigeria’s coastline among which spans Bakkasi peninsula in Cross River State to Badagry in Lagos State is designated Marine Protected Areas.

She said: “That is why the Ministry is planning to roll out a National Mangrove Restoration Plan as it avails the country several benefits in terms of controlling coastal erosion, serve in the restoration of polluted areas and protect marine animals that provide a livelihood to the people.”

Ikeazor stated this when the National President of the Nigerian Environmental Society (NES), Dr. Dorothy Bassey and her team paid her a courtesy visit on Wednesday.

The minister however expressed support for the establishment of a National Institute of Environmental Studies that would provide the necessary expertise for certification of practitioners.

She said the institute would also provide the much-needed manpower to address various environmental challenges in the country.

“The establishment of such an institute has become necessary in order to streamline the practice of environmental scientists and enthusiasts in the sector, and the need for certification and competency in handling the various aspects of climate change, the ecosystems and the environment as a whole,” she said.

Speaking further, Ikeazor assured NES President of the ministry’s readiness to collaborate with the Society in the protection and conservation of the environment.

Ikeazor stated that as part of environmental remediation, the Federal Government is committed to Mangroves restoration and protection across the country.

 Dr. Bassey said NES is a foremost environmental body in Nigeria created in 1985 with presence in 26 states. She said their activities are geared towards development and protection of the environment.

Dr. Bassey solicited for the support of the minister and other stakeholders to facilitate the passage of the bill establishing the National Environmental Institute into law.

“We as a group have over the years sponsored the bill to establish a National Environmental Institute of Nigeria in the National Assembly without success. We recently represented it for consideration,” she said.

The bill according to her was to ensure that only those with requisite skills and expertise should be allowed to take part in Environmental issues and consultancy.

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