In Ghana, the negative impacts of oil exploration is beginning to be felt on livelihoods of fishing communities around the oil enclave. Ever since oil exploration started in Ghana in the Jubilee Fields at Cape Three Points of the Western Region, fishermen have been banned from fishing within 500 km radius around the oil rigs by Tullow-Ghana. As a result, fishermen have to travel far away from the shores into the deep sea for their catch.
This situation has increased their expenditure on premix fuel used for powering their fishing boats, leading to reduced income. According to the deputy director of Ghana’s Fisheries Commission, Emmanuel Marfa, “since the commencement of oil exploration, the number of supply vessels on Ghana’s territorial waters have increased, resulting in the destruction of some Ghanaian boats and canoes without any compensation.
Some fishermen from the six coastal districts of Shama, Sekondi, Takoradi, Ahanta West, Ellembelle and Jomoro of the Western Region of Ghana, in a documentary put together by the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalist (IFEJ) said “ever since oil exploration started in Ghana, they have experienced poor catches even during bumper fishing season in August because the activities of oil companies on the oilfields were scaring fish stocks away from Ghana’s territorial waters to neighboring countries, resulting in dwindling fish stock in Ghanaian waters.
Some ocean mammals such as whales also continue to die mysteriously, raising concerns about the safety of marine life. Consequently, civil society groups have called for a fisheries’ impact assessment on the oil fields by the oil companies. A SEND-Ghana report on the extractive industry revealed that fishmongers in the Enosie Community in Half Assini, the capital of the Jomoro District have resorted to petty trading such as sale oficed water, groceries and farming as alternative livelihoods.
The expectations of citizens of Ghana in general and those at the Cape Three Points in particular seems to be fizzling out. If the legal framework meant to regulate the petroleum sector and negative impact of oil and gas activities on citizens and the fishing sector fails, it may have serious implication for the country.
By Kwame yeboah Kyeremeh www.reportingoilandgas.org