Angry fishermen at the press conference
An alleged attempt by the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and other oil exploration companies to start exploration activities with 3D seismic survey in the East Cape Three Points (ECTP) block offshore Ghana, has incurred the wrath of fishermen in Sekondi.
On December 4, 2013, Parliament endorsed an agreement for the exploration of oil on the East Cape Three Points block of the Western Region.
The agreement was signed by the government, GNPC, Cola Natural Resources Ghana Limited and Medea Development Limited, an oil exploration company that is to engage in the seismic survey.
The seismic survey will be done in about 70 days, starting August 25 to November 5, 2014. During the period it has been alleged that the fishermen will be restricted from plying their trade at where the survey will take place.
According to the irate fisher folks, it was pathetic to note that they, being the major stakeholders in the intended activities, were not consulted for their views on the initiative.
‘It was only on July 31, 2014 that we received some visitors who informed us that there was going to be seismic survey on the East Cape Three Points block which starts from the sea at Komenda to Axim,” one of them intimated.
He indicated that they (fishermen) were asked to sign a document to that effect but they declined to do so, insisting that there should not be any restrictions in their business.
According to them, the visitors were from Medea Development Limited, ESL Consulting and the GNPC.
They pointed out that the period for the exploration is a bumper harvest time and so they would not succumb to any restriction the GNPC and the other oil exploration companies would impose on them.
‘Where the survey will take place is where many fish can be found. This means that they want us to stop fishing from Komenda to Axim’, he added.
The fishermen have therefore threatened to institute a legal action against the GNPC and the allied companies if they tried to interrupt their business, insisting that they had legally acquired licences to operate in the sea all year round.
Addressing a press conference in Sekondi yesterday, Joseph Eshun, spokesperson for the fishermen, noted that the wisest thing to do was for the officials of the GNPC to engage the fishermen to solicit their views even before Parliament could endorse the agreement.
He noted that since oil was discovered in the Western Region, the fishing industry had been adversely affected, adding that fish catch had fallen because of the activities of the oil companies in the sea.
‘Activities like oil spillage and balance water have made a lot of fishermen jobless; and we believe that the GNPC knows very well what is happening but has remained silent’, he asserted.
He indicated, ‘If the GNPC wants to use the whole fishing area of Ghana for oil exploration then they should purchase all the fishing boats and canoes and use the whole sea for exploration’.
Eshun disclosed that on the agreement they did not see the assent of the fishing ministry; which he said indicated that the ministry was not consulted when fixing the date for the activities.
He, therefore, warned that the fishermen would advise themselves if the GNPC went ahead to carry out the survey adding, ‘Most of the fishermen have gone for loans and they need to pay back these monies.’
FROM Emmanuel Opoku, Sekondi
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