More confusion and maritime breaches will show up in Ghana’s offshore petroleum zones as the country commences oil production on its Tweneboah-Enyira-Ntomme (TEN) oil field later this year, The New Crusading GUIDE has gathered.
This paper is reliably informed that the incident of fishing vessels trespassing into the 500 meter radius safety exclusive zones around offshore oil installations is on the ascendency and the situation would worsen as the country commences production on its second oil field in the last quarter of this year.
Records at the Petroleum Commission (PC) indicate that over 2,000 of such breaches have occurred since commercial oil production at the Jubilee Field in 2010.
In 2015 alone, the commission recorded 595 of such cases excluding incidents of accidental collision between fishing and oil supply vessels and the destruction of fishing nets by oil vessels.
Mr. Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah, Minister of Petroleum, has described the situation as a “major concern” to his ministry.
“These activities pose serious risks to the fishermen themselves and the offshore installations as well as people on board these facilities. I appeal to all stakeholders to work with the Petroleum Commission and the industry to address these challenges”, says Mr. Buah.
But, Nana Kojo Kundua, the Western Regional President of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council (GNCFC), says fishermen cannot be blamed for making incursions into the safety zones since there were no “signposts” around the safety zones, prompting them from entering.
He says GNCFC has emphasized on numerous occasions that there should be some indications around the zones to guide fishermen.
“Most at times, we sail according to the direction of the wind so if there is nothing informing us that we’re approaching these zones, we’ll continue to make such incursions”, he maintains.
Some industry observers are predicting a worsened situation in the coming years as government has issued 23 licenses for oil and gas exploration within the country’s territorial waters and each extraction of these discoveries would aggravate the situation.
However, experts in marine planning say the issue could be addressed easily with a comprehensive marine spatial plan, just as has been done in the Baltic Zone of Europe.
Programs Officer at Friends of the Nation (FoN), a Takoradi-based socio-environmental Civil Society Organization (CSO), Solomon Kusi Ampofo, who backs such a call, says the move would address the worrying trend and protect the fisheries industry from the “oil threat”.
He says the plan would put in place a well-structured arrangement, showing clearly where fishing could be allowed and where it cannot be.
“That’s the best solution to this problem else we’ll keep beating around the bush and the problem will persist”, he says.
Source: New Crusading Guide
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