Some fisher folk in the country have blamed oil and gas exploration in the Western Region for the dwindling fish stock and the deaths of several whales.
According to them, if mitigation measures are not put in place, the situation will worsen as oil and gas activities intensify in the offshore fishery waters of Ghana and the onshore the Volta Basin
Fishing grounds are said to be lost to the oil and gas industry, following an imposition of a 500-meter fishing restriction in and around the oil rigs.
In 2015, the Ghana Industrial Trawlers Association (GITA) entered into an agreement with DFID through the Ghana Oil and Gas for Inclusive Growth (GOGIG) to review the Fisheries Act and draft regulations for the conduct of Fisheries Impact Assessment (FIA).
The overall objective was to amend Section 93 of the Fisheries Act and Regulations 1968 to make FIA mandatory for all future oil and gas projects in Ghana.
Section 93 requires the conduct of a Fisheries Impact Assessment before an activity considered to have substantial impact on the fisheries is carried out.
But the law in its current state is couched in a language which makes enforcement almost impossible.
A project designed to consult with fisher folks’ groups from Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western regions began on May 16, 2018 at NAFAG Auditorium, Tema.
These fisher folks groups include National Fisheries Associations of Ghana (NAFAG), Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council (GNCFC), Ghana Tuna Association (GTA), National Inland Canoe Fishermen Council (NICFC), Ghana Inshore Fisheries Association (GIFA), Ghana Industrial Trawlers Association (GITA) and National Fish Processors and Traders Association (NAFPTA).
This project is ultimately expected to contribute to efforts to avert any potential conflict between fisher folk and the oil and gas industry through advocacy to make FIAs mandatory for all oil and gas projects irrespective of the degree of impact.
The two main components of the project are the civil society component made up of GITA/GOGIG plus a consortium including the National Fisheries Association of Ghana and the government component, which also seeks to promote projects on Fisheries Commission and Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development.
As part of the civil society component to solicit inputs was the incorporation into the draft amendment of Section 93 the Fisheries Law and formulation of draft FIA Regulations.
Last year, GITA organised its first stakeholders’ consultations with Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), Ministry of Energy (MoE), ENI, Kosmos Energy, Ghana Wildlife Society, GNPC, ISODEC and Oil Watch.
By Odilia Agyeman Prempeh|Accra, Ghana