A section of the audiences, inset Nana Effrim IV addressing the press conference
Fishermen at Shama in the Western Region yesterday stunned journalists when they revealed that personnel of the Ghana Navy sometimes subject them to severe beatings when they accidentally move close to the oil rig.
Though some fishermen deliberately fish around the rig, there are instances whereby the ocean current drives the fishermen unknowingly to the rig, according to them.
?This sometimes results in some misunderstanding between us and the naval officers and in extreme cases we are abused and our fishing gears are also seized,? the fishermen said.
The Navy used to be our friends but the brutalities had led to enmity between the fishermen and the navy personnel.
?We want the oil and gas companies, the Western Regional Naval Command, the Marine Police and the Ghana Maritime Authority to organize regular education for fishermen on safe practices,? they suggested.
Addressing a press conference in Shama yesterday, Nana Effrim IV, Chief Fisherman of Shama Bentil, noted that fishermen have a way of tracking the movement of fishes.
He mentioned that because of the lights on the oil rig which attract fishes, the fishermen were unable to track the movement of fishes these days.
?This sometimes compels some of the fishermen to go closer to the rig,? he added.
The press conference was held by members of the Shama District Fishermen Coalition on Oil and Gas in collaboration with the Integrated Action of Development Initiatives (IADI), a rural development organization and was funded by STAR-Ghana.
He indicated that the increasing number of oil rigs and vessels as a result of the continuous discovery of oil in the Western region had made fishing very risky, adding ?sometimes our canoes get destroyed and people lose their lives.?
Increase Cost Of Fishing
Nana Effrim alleged that oil and gas exploration had also increased the cost of fishing from around GH?500.00 to close to GH?1,000, explaining that they use the money to purchase fuel and iced blocks.
He said because of the 500 metres demarcation from the rig given to fishermen coupled with the lights on the rig, the fishermen travel further at sea to fish.
The lights on the rig generate heat which results in the death of the fishes and contaminates the water, the Shama Bentil chief fisherman alleged.
Fishermen Need Support
Nana Effrim stressed the need for government and the oil companies to provide enough scholarship schemes to the children of fishermen as part of their corporate social responsibility.
He alleged that the exploration and production of oil and gas generate several diseases.
?In recent times, we have been coughing regularly and we believe that substances used in the oil and gas exploration could be the cause as we have never experienced such coughs.
The fishermen appealed to government and the oil companies to consider compensating those whose fishing equipment are destroyed or seized by the security agencies.
From Emmanuel Opoku, Shama