The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ruled out the possibility that the fish kill at the Fujian Fish Farm, a Chinese firm at Asutuare in the Shai Osudoku District in the Greater Accra Region, was due to poisoning.
In an interview in Accra last Saturday, the Director of Natural Resources of the EPA, Mr Carl Fiati, said: "I can tell you without even coming out with the report that the allegation of poison is very remote."
He explained that the issue of poisoning had been ruled out because during an inspection on the Volta Lake, there was no sign of dead fishes on the water.
"On the water, we didn't see any dead fish. If it was poisoning, there would have been dead fishes floating on the water. So straightaway we rule out poisoning," Mr Fiati said.
Last Friday, there was a looming health hazard at Asutsuare in the Shai Osudoku District in the Greater Accra Region following the death of more than six tonnes of fish (Tilapia) on the fish farm.
The fish, which died under strange conditions, were buried near the company’s premises under the supervision of the Director of Natural Resources of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Mr Fiati.
The stench around the burial place near the Volta Lake is unbearable.
Letter from management
Mr Fiati explained that the management of the company last Thursday communicated with the EPA via a letter, saying it suspected poisoning on its farm which had led to a massive fish kill on the farm.
The following day (Friday), the EPA dispatched officials, led by Mr Fiati, to visit the premises of the farm and ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the complaint by the management of the company.
But after a tour of the premises of the farm and the collection of samples of water and fish on the farm, Mr Fiati said per what he and his team observed, the death of the fish could not have been caused by poisoning.
He said he was yet to brief his superiors but indicated that an interim report would have to be submitted to the company this week, even before the final report was made ready in two weeks’ time.
Mr Fiati said the cause of the fish kill could be due to pollution, shortage of oxygen, intensive stocking and high temperature or poor housekeeping measures.
He said clearly there were a number of issues that needed immediate attention even before the final report was submitted and that the company would be informed accordingly.
He cited, for instance, the fact that housekeeping at the farm was poor.
On the suspension of production on the farm, Mr Fiati explained that the company had already been directed to stop stocking the cages until a committee set up to look into its operations had completed its work.
He explained that the EPA had received complaints that the farm was using unapproved means to breed the fish.
Mr Fiati said based on the complaint, a committee was set up which was still working and that it was only after it had come out with its findings that the farm would be allowed to stock new fish.
He said it meant that the company was already following a directive not to stock new fish.
Meanwhile, tilapia sellers at some markets and food joints in Accra and Kasoa have expressed fear that their business may suffer following the death and destruction of some tilapia from the Fujin Fish Farm at Asutuare which has resulted in a nationwide concern.
Although their business is yet to be affected, the sellers have decided to reduce the volume of tilapia they order from their suppliers.
When the Daily Graphic visited the Kaneshie, Lapaz, Mallam Atta, Mallam and Galilea markets hours after the news hit social media, tilapia sellers there said they were scared for their business.
According to them, although they had heard from their suppliers that the issue had been contained and that they need not be scared, they still entertained fear, saying: “Ghanaians only hear one thing and that’s all.”
“My brother, you don’t know Ghanaians errh? Once they hear something, everybody will run away. It has happened before and we know it will happen again,” Madam Cynthia Quaye, a tilapia seller at the Galilea Market, said.
She cited the period when the sausage business in Ghana nearly collapsed because of a viral video showing piglets being used to produce it.
“This is how the Ghanaian market is — any small bad news is enough to collapse your business,” Madam Quaye said.
At the Kaneshie Market, most of the tilapia sellers said they were bracing themselves up for a decline in the sale of the fish.
“I have been selling tilapia for about six years and so I know every bit of the business. Today, I expected at least four customers who come only on Fridays to buy, but as of 2 p.m. none of them had shown up,” Auntie Jane said.
The situation at Kaneshie was not different from that of the Mallam and the Mallam Atta markets, where tilapia sellers expressed the same concern.
Some of them said they might switch to the sale of other types of fish.
“For me, I do not sell tilapia alone but different fishes and so I will continue but reduce the volume I take from the tilapia farms,” Modamu Dabam, a tilapia seller at the Mallam Atta Market, said.
At food joints, most consumers of tilapia had not heard about the news and only learnt about it when a question was posed to them.
Ms Erica Tawiah, a regular tilapia consumer at a popular food joint at Kaneshie, said: “I am only hearing about this, and judging by what you are saying, I think there is no need to fear.”
However, she opted for a different fish from the food seller.