Canoe fishermen and players in the country’s upstream oil and gas industry have agreed to adopt a safe sea access framework (SSAF) in their respective activities by adhering strictly to safety and good environmental practices for increased productivity.
Another component of the framework is support from the oil companies to modernise artisanal fishing and sensitisation programmes on illegal fishing practices, undertake social strategic investments to manage expectations, ensure ethical use of marine resources and provide a regulatory provision to extend the safety zone for more fishing vessels.
Until now, artisanal fishermen followed light emitted from the Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessels to fish. The practice, that was close to deep sea oil drilling installations, posed a danger to the multi-million dollar investments.
This was announced at the second national multi-stakeholder SSAF workshop in Takoradi yesterday.
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The Director of Local Content at the Petroleum Commission (PC), Mr Kwaku Boateng, said before the discovery of oil and gas, the country’s maritime space was used for transportation, fishing, research, among others.
He, however, noted that those activities brought in their wake annual increases in the rate of canoe incursions into oil fields which endangered the lives of the fishermen and the oil installations.
“We, therefore, came up with the initiative to develop a framework through broad consultations and views from all stakeholders.
“Last year, there was a meeting in which all participants made contributions that were incorporated into the final draft,” he added.
Aside from the framework, Mr Boateng said, other programmes on safety were rolled out to help manage the operations of upstream oil blocs and other players in the maritime industry in the country.
He mentioned the PC, the Fisheries Ministry, the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other regulatory agencies as making inputs into the crafting of the SSAF.
The consultant to the project, Dr Yaw Amoyaw-Osei of the Centre for Environment and Health Research and Training, advised oil companies in the area to contribute resources towards the effective management of the framework by a consortium.
He urged them to create a forum for regular interactions with residents and also conduct community need assessments in affected districts.