The Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) has urged fishermen to keep proper records of their activities to ensure they did not miss out on their right to compensation in times of damage.
It called for internal record keeping mechanisms by the various fishermen groupings to help in compensation or insurance in the event of oil spillage along the coastline of the country.
Mr Kojo Agbenor- Efunam, the Acting Director of Petroleum Department of the EPA, gave the advice at a day’s stakeholder engagement in Cape Coast on the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan to solicit citizens’ views to revise the National Plan.
The revised plan will include the change in risk profile, funding to implement the plan, stakeholders’ education, training, and capacity building, and coastal sensitivity mapping among others.
The Contingency Plan was formulated to provide the framework for the coordination of an integrated response by government agencies and relevant stakeholders to protect the environment from the effects of pollution from spillage of oil substances.
Mr Agbenor-Efunam noted that the Plan was more focused on protection than prevention, adding that the allocation of resources should be based on a thorough analysis and prioritization of oil spill risks and the measures necessary to reduce these risks to prevent spills, on land and at sea, upstream and midstream.
He said the plan needed to be updated periodically by expunging the names of the dead, changing contacts and removing those who had retired.
The EPA Director said, “let begin to prepare ahead of time because these international agencies pay claims of damage or destruction based on records.”
It is against this background that Friends of the Nation and Oxfam with support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Co-operation (NORAD) has been engaging the Environmental Protection Agency and other stakeholders to revise the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP) to identify the gaps and make recommendations to better it.
This would help better position the country to maximize benefits from the petroleum sector as significant efforts have been made to ensure sound governance, including transparent and efficient management of petroleum revenues.
Experts say the over ten years oil industry, still needed retooling in terms of plans in averting or managing disasters of spill either onshore or offshore.
Mr Agbenor-Efunam said although some work had been done over the years to govern and improve the sector, there was still room for collaborative efforts by players in the upstream business to enhance the safety of the environment in which they operated.
On the need for an Oil Impact Assessment and Wildlife Response Plan, the Acting Director stated that the EPA would work with other stakeholders to prepare one when data was made available.
Commenting on the need for a Marine Spatial Plan, he said the EPA through the NANSEN Programme and oil companies had some data on benthic communities and urged the Fisheries Commission and Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission to take the lead in preparing the spatial plan and establish marine protected areas.
He said the Abidjan Convention and GIWACAF Project negotiations would re-open soon to establish MOUs for cross-border spill arrangements.
The stakeholders stressed the need for the country to learn from best practices elsewhere to improve on the sector.
They also reiterated the need for the government to commit more to the plan and its implementation, mount more education on the plan for fishermen and all those in the Marine value chain.
Fishermen have also complained about the restriction of their activities around the offshore oil and gas installations and these were impacting their fish landings.