Shama District Fisher-folks Coalition on Oil and Gas, has requested for adequate compensation package for members whose equipment and fishing gear have been destroyed by oil vessels.
Mr Richard Addo Blankson, Secretary to the Coalition, which is an advocacy group championing the welfare of fisher-folks in the area, alleged that members had suffered a lot of injustices from oil vessels operating at the Jubilee Oilfield as well as the Marine Police Unit and the Ghana Navy.
Addressing a media conference at Shama in the Western Region, he said seismic survey vessels used by the operators of the Jubilee Oilfield for prospecting for oil wells often crash their canoes thereby destroying their equipment and fishing gear.
He noted that the restrictions on the high seas, especially around the Jubilee Oilfield had resulted in loss of traditional fishing grounds thereby reducing fish catch and worsening the plight of the fisher-folks.
It was on this basis that the Coalition was formed through the initiative of the Integrated Action of Development Initiatives (IADA), a non-governmental organisation, with support from STAR-Ghana, a multi-donor pooled agency, to be the mouthpiece of more than 2,000 fishermen, fishmongers and people engage in fishing-related businesses in the district.
Mr Blankson said the Coalition aimed at fostering cordial relationship between the oil companies, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, Ghana Maritime Authority, the Marine Police Unit and the Navy in order to address their challenges.
Fishermen should be compensated for the restrictions given to them, which prevents them from fishing in their own preferred destinations as well as the increasing number of oil rigs and vessels on the high seas that pose danger to fishing activities, he said.
The Coalition also requested for regular interactions and educational dialogue with the major stakeholders in the petroleum industry, as well as periodic assessment of the health conditions of people in the fishing communities, especially those in the six coastal districts of the Region, since oil drilling could have health implications the inhabitants.
Mr Eric Cobbinah, Programme Coordinator of IADA said his organisation facilitated the formation of the Coalition following the absence of an avenue for fishermen in the area to voice the grievances of the fisher-folks.
He said IADA had undertaken many educational programmes and community engagements to build the capacity of fisher-folks in the district to use appropriate channels to address their concerns, instead of confrontation.