Lagos lagoon is a major water body in the Lagos metropolis which impacts significantly on the lives of the Lagosians enormously. It is used primarily for fishing, aquaculture, sand mining and recreation activities.
In line with the mandate of the Waterkeeper Alliance of ensuring the society has right to swimmable, fishable and drinkable water, we have began a community engagement series with our Ariyike Sea Turtle Monitoring and Conservation project to educate the Coastal communities around the Lagoon whose livelihoods depend on Fishing that there continued livelihoods are directly linked to the continued existence of Sea Turtles in the waters.
The Fishermen have been recording high numbers of Jelly Fish in their catch and they go several days without a catch. This has further aggravated the Human-Wildlife Conflict between the fishing communities and the sea turtles. Every single sea turtles coming to nest has a potential of been poached for food and for income. Even those caught in fisheries bycatch are not spared as fishermen sell the turtles who breaks their nets to get money to repair them.
We have begun to make some progress but we need to do more and we need to train these disadvantage people with alternative income, educational and health opportunities through training, tourism and direct conditional cash transfers to improve their lives. We would be sharing information on steps we are taking but we need take urgent actions as the Sea Turtles will continue to come to our Shores, the people will continue to hunt them not because they want to (at least not all of them) but because they have to.
The Lagos Lagoon cuts across the southern part of the metropolis, linking the Atlantic Ocean (in the west and south) and Lekki Lagoon (in the east). It is about 6354.708 sq km in area and 285 km in perimeter. The Lagos Lagoon consists of three main segments such as Lagos harbour, the metropolitan end and Epe division segments. We have a lot of ground to cover. As we deal with the Sea Turtle hunting, we also have to educate the communities on waste management and pollution.
As of today, we have trained and empowered 10 local community members as Volunteer Sea Turtle Guardians, paying them a small stipend to make the protection and conservation of the Wildlife resources and the Lagoon environment a community lead action program. These are people who are hitherto hunters and gatherers of Sea Turtle eggs, nesting females and those caught in the fisheries bycatch. We would love to train and empower more local volunteers to not only become Sea Turtles Guardians but also advocates of a Clean Lagos Lagoon.
We plan to infuse our Ariyike Sea Turtle Monitoring Project, the Clean Lagos Lagoon Initiative of the Lagos Lagoon Waterkeeper and Ariyike Tours to deliver an amazing tripartite solution to turn Hunters and Polluters into Conservationists and Environmental Guardians respectively. This is our long-term strategic plan.