The Young Volunteers for Environment (YVE) has called for the rescue of Ghana’s fishing industry from collapsing weight of oil exploitation along some of the coasts lines of the country.
“The oil and gas sector is set to expand, but what is not clear is whether the fisheries sector is set to grow with it or shrink,” says the head of YVE, Mr. Amos Yesutanbul.
This was made known in a press statement issued on a CSO Forum on the Transformative system change agenda in Ghana and the environmental management policy for oil and gas industry by the YVE-Ghana in partnership with Frontier Institute of Development Planning (FIDEP) Foundation.
The forum, which was also used to present a sub-regional research to identify the impacts or potential impacts of oil and gas exploitation along the West Africa coastline and in other water bodies on fisher folks and consumers by Friends of the Earth Ghana, wondered whether Ghanaian fishing communities were becoming susceptible to growing oil and gas risks, and whether Ghana was up to the task of avoiding the resource curse.
Mr. Yesutanbul wondered how the national fishing priorities were compared with oil and gas priorities. “This is a legitimate question, given the increasing concerns of a potential clash between oil and gas exploitation and fishing activities in Ghana,” he asserted.
Mr. Yesutanbul said there should be an immediate policy priority to rethink a more comprehensive pathway allowing government to integrate community livelihoods sustainability into oil and gas exploitation processes.
He observed that, if that was not considered, there could be a total economic, social and environmental impoverishment of coastal communities and fisher folks in the long term.
In order to reduce the potential of widespread coastal conflicts, Mr. Yesutanbul called for a “jointly-developed conflict management plan which must take into account community-led approaches to addressing confiscation of fishing equipment, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSO) and compensation payments as well as restrictions on the use of the marine/coastal resources due to oil and gas activities.”
He indicated that government must mobilize funds from oil and gas companies to establish an Integrated Coastal Communities Development Fund “that seeks to strengthen safety nets for fisher folks and host communities.”
Mr. Yesutanbul said, given proper implementation of the assertive financial actions, that could reduce the potential for an economic, social and environmental deprivation and also reduce conflicts between fishermen and oil and gas companies.
“By this we recommend that government departments need to mainstream open governance principles into two national policies, namely the Environmental Management Policy for the Oil and Gas Industry and the National Fisheries Co-Management Policy,” he said.
YVE is a local ally of Friends of the Earth International and the project was sponsored by the Global Green Grants Fund.