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Oil find not responsible for dwindling marine sector – Research

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OilA research conducted by Acorn International, a US-based research group in conjunction the Environmental Protection Agency and Kosmos Energy has shown that the oil and gas sector is not to blame for the dwindling marine sector in the coastal areas where the oil companies operate.

The research, which was conducted for eight months, was to provide a better understanding of issues affecting the use of marine resources.

Speaking at the launch of the report on Tuesday, Mr Dean Slocum, President, Acorn International, said the presence of seaweeds also known as sargassum, which is particularly present in the Western Region, was one of the major factors as it had affected the livelihood of the fisher folks.

“Other common algae that raises concern to fishermen in the region is Ulva clathrata known locally as ‘green green’ which is found along the coastline of Ivory Coast, is also one of the causes”, he said.

Mr Slocum said illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing which has become a global challenge in the fishing industry was also playing a significant role in contributing to the depleting stocks.

He said residents interviewed for the study expressed concerns that fishermen continue to use illegal means to capture fish including the use of lights, explosives and dynamite.

On the issue of dead whales and dolphins, he attributed it to fishermen who kill them as by-catch or targeted catch.

Mr Slocum said an interview with Ghanaian marine scientists and members of fishing communities supported the view that there has been an increase in the targeting of cetaceans, particularly dolphins, for sale as marine “bush meat”.

He said the research also showed that some of the dead whales and dolphins which were washed ashore might have died in nearby countries and washed ashore in Ghana.

He praised those in the oil industry for putting in place measures to ensure that oil spillages which could harm the marine sector were avoided.

He called for the maintenance of the exclusion zones around oil and gas facilities to mitigate the impact of exclusion zones on fishermen.

However, Awulai Annor Adjaye, Paramount Chief, Western Nzema, Jomoro District, expressed concern about the research as the sample size of only 100 was small for a population of 2.5 million people who live along the coast.

He said the research also did not address challenges faced by the fishermen and the communities along the coast.

He said he was not convinced that the activities of the oil and gas sector had not had any impact on the marine industry in the Western Region.

Ms Sherry Ayittey, Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture, who launched the report lauded the contributions of the fisheries industries to the socio-economic sector of the country as it contributed nearly 5 per cent towards the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.

He said fishermen in the Western Region were nervous about the country’s new offshore industry and its activities as they fear the potentially devastated impact of an oil spill.

“They are also angry about the 500-metre no fishing zone around the Jubilee field and the drilling rigs claiming the enormous 24-7 lighting on the Kwame Nkrumah FPSO and other off-loading vessels compelled fish to venture into the no-go safety zone.

She called for specific support for fish processing and marketing to generate improved technology and value addition to fish and fish products and also support the Ministry of Fisheries with the preparation of a Corporate Social responsibility strategy for the petroleum and fisheries industries.

Source: GNA

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