Don’t fish in restricted zones – Petroleum Commission to fishermen

The Petroleum Commission has appealed to the fishing community to abide by the laws that prohibit them from fishing within marked areas around the country’s oil fields in order to protect their lives as well as avoid any potential damage to the country’s oil fields.

The call according to the Commission forms part of efforts to ensure that there are no conflicts within, between or among the various players within the country’s marine territory.

As Ghana’s hydrocarbon exploration, development and production which have been mainly offshore intensified with about 18 acreages awarded to 16 companies, a key challenge has been the frequent and increasing incursions into the Advisory and Exclusion Zones by fishermen.

Indeed, over 32,000 incursions have been recorded over the last five (5) year period, according to the Petroleum Commission.

These breaches do not only place fishermen in grave danger but unnecessarily put critical offshore facilities and infrastructure at risk.

Addressing the issue of the Safe Sea Access Framework, CEO of the Petroleum Commission, Egbert Fabile said fishermen must do well to avoid restricted areas meant for oil exploration activities.

“The way we see highly inflammable trucks on the road and try to avoid them is the same way our fishermen should also see the FPSOs on our high seas and not go near them to prevent any eventuality. Also, national revenue by way of oil and gas or oil earnings will cease for a long time. Before a replacement is found for an FPSO, the impact on Ghana’s economy will be that we will not get enough gas to produce electricity for other sectors of the economy. The replacement of an FPSO may take maybe six months, a year or even longer, so you realize that if we do not engage with you for you to speak to your members to abide by the laws and regulations, it is Ghana that will be at a loss in the event of any incident”.

Mr. Faibille also asked international oil companies to be consistent in supporting the implementation of the Safe Sea Access Framework.

According to him, the full support of the oil companies is critical in order to attain a smooth implementation.

The Safe Sea Access Framework (SSAF) was borne out of a study which forms part of the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MFAC)’s Action Plans to ensure strategic co-existence of oil and gas and fisheries sectors.

The MFAC was set up by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development in July 2015 and is composed of stakeholders from government regulators, security agencies, civil society organizations and industry players in both sectors.

The study was commissioned with the objective of finding solutions and recommendations for strategies that could potentially reduce further encroachment of fishermen into the advisory and exclusive zones in the Oil and Gas operational areas.