Fishermen are asking government to support them directly with some of the revenue accrued from oil production.
This, they say, will help make up for losses they are suffering because of oil production, off the coast of the Western Region.
According to Vice President of the Ghana Inshore Fishers Association, Kofi Mensah, fishermen along the shores of the sea in the Western and Central Regions have been catching less fish since Ghana began drilling oil about five years ago.
“The finding of the oil is somehow affecting our fishing industry. For example, the lightening on the rig attracts fishes from afar. That is why we also try to go near the rig. But we are being prevented,” he said. Mr. Mensah says this is making it impossible for fishermen to raise money to take care of their families.
“When you go to sea and bring fish, you get money to pay your light bill, pay your children’s fees, pay for rent… But as we go and bring in no fish, people are being ejected from their houses because they cannot pay for their rent and other things,” he said.
Mr. Mensah was speaking to Joy news at a conference in the Central Region, organised by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Foundation and Oil Watch Ghana on the fishing and oil industries. It was under the theme: “Five Years of Ghana’s Oil: Understanding the Oil and Fisheries Nexus.”
Resident Director of FES Fritz Kopsieker noted there is the need for social justice in the distribution of revenue from natural resources if democracy can be sustained.
Projects Officer of the Fisheries Commission Kwesi Nsedu insisted in-depth studies need to be conducted to establish the real impact of the oil industry on fishing activities before definitive conclusions can be drawn. But other stakeholders are clear in their minds the impact has been negative.
“Fish stocks are going low and nobody knows why. But the fact that whales are dying – 29 washed ashore since 2007 – is a worrisome situation which shows that something is happening to our fishes negatively and it all started at the advent of the discovery of oil in our waters,” Kwesi Johnson of civil society group, Friends of the Nations told Joy news.
He added: “Socio economic life is worse in the fishing communities because less money is entering the pockets of the fisherman.”