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ĎNeglecting Fisheries For Oil Sector Can Be Fatalí   
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Refusing to maximise efforts to Ghana’s fishing sector due to over-focus on the oil industry can be fatal, an expert has warned.

Noble Wadzah, Co-ordinator, Oil Watch Ghana, said irresponsible oil production has the potential to incubate despair, fatalism and conflict among fishing populations.

“After all, they are communities of people on the ocean, with good understanding of the rudiments of that part of the world, unexplored by many land-based people like us. Already, the fisheries sector has its own challenges, adding more challenges to those already in the sector can push fisher folks overboard and induce conflicts that may not be easily fixed by oil revenue,” Mr Wadzah noted.

He said Ghana must try not to replicate the Somali picture, where most fishermen in the country have taken to piracy, a problem he explained that country is paying a huge price to fix.

Mr Wadzah was speaking at a forum jointly organised by Oil Watch Ghana and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung at Anomabo, a fishing community in the Central Region of Ghana. The forum was dubbed, ‘Five Years of Ghana’s Oil: Understanding the Oil and Fisheries Nexus’.

The expert said the country’s fisher folks are not in queues looking for jobs in government but are self-employed, and once their livelihood is taken from them, “we can be sure that they will join the queue of the unemployed and that would be a strain on government.”

The fisheries sector remains a crucial focal space in understanding how well or poorly Ghana is doing to strike a positive balance between the oil and other sectors of the national economy. However, the contribution of fisheries to the country’s economy has taken a nosedive since commercial oil production began in the country in December 2010.

The contribution of fisheries to GDP has gradually fallen from 2.5% in 2011 to 1.7% in 2014, according to Fisheries Commission.

Thomas Nsaido, Deputy Director at the Fisheries Commission, said the fishing industry is not satisfied with the fallouts that accompanied oil exploration stages.

“Most times, these fishermen are restricted from going to fish, and that did not go well with them. There were also issues of pollution of the sea, and thus affected their catch during oil exploration. The flaring of the gas again showed vivid signs and effects on the health of the fishermen,” he said.

He said having series of stakeholder consultations would help bring both sectors to coexist in harmony.

Source: The Finder

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