By Justice Lee Adoboe ACCRA, (Xinhua)
-- Many Ghanaians believe that much as
government derives revenue from the upstream petroleum industry,
there is also the need to protect other traditional industries
from the vagaries of oil exploration and production.
Civil society actors have therefore been advocating the right
governance structures for the fisheries and other traditional
economic sectors to ensure their continuous developmental roles
in the economy.
recognition of the importance of the fisheries industry,
drafters of the Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency
Initiative (GHEITI) Bill listed the fisheries sector as among
natural resources whose extraction needed to be covered by the
“The drafters of that bill did a great job by recognizing that
Ghana’s natural resource sector, or most of the current natural
resources that we have, go beyond mining. Now the GHEITI has
extended its focus and mandate on oil and gas; and also to some
extent on forestry and also recognizing fisheries,” Noble Wadzah,
coordinator of OilWatch Ghana, told Xinhua on Wednesday.
However, the governance structures elaborated in the bill did
not support the intentions it had on the fisheries sector, he
“It means governance in the fisheries sector might be weak if
not well addressed,” he said. “So all we are calling for is that
the intention demonstrated in the GHEITI Bill must be followed
through and done well.”
Wadzah cautioned that if issues within the sector were not well
addressed, livelihoods in fisheries communities would be lost,
as the oil industry grows.
“We have to deepen that attention that we already have and
invest in the non-oil economic sectors,” Wadzah said. “Making it
a reality is the most important thing, not just talking about
“As for oil, it will run out at a point, but agriculture and the
fisheries sector are renewable natural resources which will
continue to thrive,” he said.
“While the fisheries sector is usually portrayed as a sector for
peasant populations for which reason it does not make waves in
the political limelight, the oil sector comes on another
treadmill, which makes the waves much stronger, so you have set
the basis for conflict already,” Wadzah said.
therefore urged that the bill should live up to its own
expectations otherwise there would be no need or justification
for having the fisheries sector in the GHEITI Bill.
“It should not just create a warped impression that something is
being done when in actual fact nothing is being done. That is
what we want to ensure,” Wadzah said.
Augustine Niber, executive director of the Center for Public
Interest Law (CEPIL), also described as very well thought-out
the bringing in of the fisheries sector under the EITI Bill.
This, he noted, would not only be beneficial in terms of revenue
transparency and accountability but also a measure of
identifying or seeing to what extent that it would lead to
development in the fishing communities and in Ghana as a whole.
There have been protests and agitations in coastal fishing
communities, especially along the Western Coast of Ghana, about
the truncating of fishing activities by exploratory and
production vessels of international oil companies.
“The fisheries law would take care of issues like transparency,
like contractual transparency and the rest, but just like the
other sectors of the extractive industry like mining, oil and
gas and the rest, you will always have the major law that takes
care of issues of transparency and accountability.
“But bringing GHEITI to the fisheries sector will also lead to
accountability in terms of how much companies in the sector are
paying and how much government is receiving and what type of
developmental priorities it is being used for,” Niber said.