While Ghana might be adding some more revenue to its kitty after commercial oil production started late 2010, all has not been well with its marine fishing industry, which is one of the largest economic activities along the coast.
Fisher-folks in Axim, Dixcove, Takoradi, Asiama, among many other coastal communities along the Western Coast of the country, have complained incessantly about the loss of their livelihoods as a result of the new economy of petroleum exploration, development and production.
Speaking here on Friday at a day’s stakeholders forum on Ghana’s petroleum sector governance, Emelia Abakah-Edu, a fish-monger from Axim, 239 km west of the capital, lamented the fast dwindling fortunes of the fishing industry of the region.
“Our fishermen fuel their outboard motors at very high cost and yet are intercepted during their expeditions by oil exploring companies or producers,” she disclosed.
According to her, exploration activities that are carried out mostly during the peak fishing season make life unbearable for the fisher-folks and their dependants.
She therefore urged the authorities to ensure that exploration activities are approved such that both the petroleum industry and the fishing sector could coexist.
Francis Ackar, Head of Resource Management at the Petroleum Commission, noted that the challenges being realized within the sector were due to the lack of preparedness at the time Ghana discovered oil.
“A lot of things were not in place and many Ghanaians did not realize that petroleum revenue depended upon the volume of oil and the world market price,” he stated.
Ackah underscored the need for continued expectation and management to avoid the unrealistic expectation people had of the sector.
Speaker after speaker at the forum cautioned that there was the need to deal with the issues of the livelihoods of the coastal districts forming the western oil enclaves to avoid the Niger Delta type of situation in Ghana.
Chairman of the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas, Steve Manteaw, noted that one of the major causes of the current challenges was the failure by the local government assemblies in the oil enclave to plan their yearly activities to include the reality of oil exploration.
“For a country which has mined gold for over a century, there should have been a way of dealing with the issues of land-use and sea-use as we currently have,” Manteaw pointed out.
He however allayed the fears of the stakeholders, saying the Petroleum Commission was about to carry out a socioeconomic assessment of the social impact assessment of petroleum activities in the Western Region. Enditem