Beyond a busy harborside market in the twin cities of Sekondi-Takoradi, where hundreds of fishermen scurry past pans sizzling with sardines, mackerels and moonfish, sit two offshore rigs that serve as a constant reminder of Ghana’s looming energy boom.
Many in the country’s western region, the epicentre of the fishing industry, had been optimistic that oil production would bring jobs, cheaper fuel and economic prosperity. But now, they say oil exploration programs are impeding their livelihoods.
“Our fish catch has reduced drastically since oil exploration started here,” says Kofi al-Haji Musa, 43, who has been fishing in the area for 31 years. “Before oil exploration started I could fill my canoe with fish three times every day. Now, I can’t even manage one load.”
Fishermen and activists say a planned seismic survey by ESL Consulting and Medea Development will disrupt their work during the height of the season, ruining the prospect of a profitable harvest. The survey is due to start next week and continue until November.
“Seismic surveys will obstruct fishing and deny fishermen the opportunity to fish,” says Kyei Yamoah, program coordinator for natural resources management at Friends of the Nation. “They are causing a lot of problems because they are denying fishermen access to fish at a very opportune time.”
“We were excited when the oil companies told us we were going to share the sea – we thought the price of petrol would go down. But now, the companies and the government are not treating us fairly. We have not been consulted [in their plans],” says Nana Kobina Asmah, chief fisherman for Sekondi.
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