Addressing fish poisoning

Fred Wesley | Wednesday, May 31, 2017
When 16 villagers of Ligaulevu in Mali were rushed to Labasa Hospital at the weekend with fish poisoning, there had to be a touch of concern.

The issue is an interesting one. Leave aside the fact that they were all taken in from one island, what will stand out is how they got sick and the lessons we can learn from this episode.

Police confirmed the villagers ate moray eel (dabea) at the weekend. Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro confirmed that 13 villagers had been discharged by Sunday.

Mali district representative Seru Moce confirmed the incident, saying the 16 villagers had consumed a moray eel caught in waters close to the island.

Mr Moce said the 13 victims, who returned after being examined at the Labasa Hospital, were lucky not to be seriously affected.

It is a worry when people disregard advice, and do things they know could negatively impact their lives.

Despite advice not to consume known poisonous species, some people, Mr Moce said, still turned a blind eye and consumed them.

Deputy secretary for Ministry of Fisheries, Sanaila Naqali, interviewed in the wake of the poisoning, labelled the incident as a result of pure disobedience on the part of villagers. Mr Naqali said the eel was listed as a poisonous fish, adding it was common knowledge among villagers in coastal areas.

The incident, he said, was a show of "pure disobedience and has almost cost the villagers their lives".

"Our advice to villagers in the coastal area is if the fish is known to be poisonous then don't eat it," he said.

"The moray eel is on the list of poisonous fish and we are circulating information on it widely and we urge all to follow the advice on our notices and banner and also the awareness and local knowledge they have."

As Mr Naqali said, there is always a high price for disobedience.

In this instance, as he rightly pointed out yesterday, it accrues money used on treatment, and it can cost people their lives.

In the face of all this, we are left to wonder why people do this to themselves. Why do we go against what is right, to consume something that is labelled as poisonous?

Surely we can think like responsible adults.

Why do some people push the boundaries of common sense, and shrug aside every sense of responsibility to satisfy a craving? Is it really worth all the trouble to consume something that is known to be poisonous? Why do some people opt for that dance with fate so to speak?

Surely there are enough issues for us all to contemplate each day without having to worry about how people are faring because they ate poisonous fish.

Should we even get to that stage?

The onus though is on us as individuals to be proactive. Let us be aware, stay away from known poisonous fish, and have the sense of responsibility to do the right thing.

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