The Niger Delta Coordinator of Artisan Fishermen Association of Nigeria (ARFAN), Rev. Samuel Ayadi, made the call in a chat with newsmen in Yenagoa.
Ayadi said the fishermen were awaiting the intervention of the president to give a new lease of life to the sector in line with the economic diversification policy of the present administration.
He said the fishermen had a consolidated compensation claims from the Qua Iboe oil fields being operated by Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited from 2,000 to 2010 pending at the presidency.
Ayadi said the immediate past administration had mediated between the oil firm and the affected communities but the fund had yet to get to the fishermen and other fishing communities in Akwa Ibom.
“We have suffered untold hardship over the non-payment of the consolidated claims, a development that has crippled fishing activities and reduced fish output, hence the high cost of fish.
“We learnt that the presidency in the immediate past administration stepped into the matter and received some funds to settle the victims but unfortunately the fund had yet to be released before it left office.
“We appeal to the president in line with his Change Agenda to authorise the release of the funds to pay us our claims.
”It is our belief that this will reduce fish imports which will ease pressure on foreign exchange and firm up the Naira..
“We have confidence in the fatherly disposition of the president, who belongs to everybody to champion the cause of the down-trodden, thirsty for justice.
“We have not been able to get out of the problems caused by incessant oil spills, as more than 7,000 of our members have been affected,” Ayadi said.
The chairman said that a lot of his members had been thrown out of business following frequent spills which had wiped out generations of fish from the waters.
He said fishing required the protection of government to enable the fishermen provide fish, the cheapest source of protein to guarantee food security in the country.