The meeting, which is on the theme: “Fossil Fuels Over Africa and Alternative Energy,” has representatives from the Academia and Civil Society Organizations from Ghana, Nigeria, Sudan, Mozambique, Togo and Swaziland attending.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Madam Elizabeth Naa Afoley Quaye, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, said knowledge of these natural resources and strategies to find alternative means of energy through fossil fuels was a herculean task in relation to exploiting living aquatic resources within the same maritime domain.
She said with the right expertise, funding, and logistics on a science-based approach, one can learn from other developing and developed countries to tap and mitigate any tendencies that may result in the development and utilization of oil fields for energy and the marine aquatic ecosystem for food with specific relation to fisheries.
She said within the Oil and Gas industry in Ghana and since the major oil finds in 2007, oil spill contingency plans have been of utmost importance.
“Aquatic living organisms including fish do exist within the same maritime domain and issues exist in making sure that both resources living and non-living are harnessed and exploited without jeopardizing the natural habitat (ecosystem) much to the detriment of other resources.
“Luckily in Ghana, no significant oil spills have been recorded since our oil find affecting our shorelines, marine mammals and fisheries,” she said.
She said in Ghana and within the fisheries sector, studies have shown that the resting stock of our main fisheries resources the sardinellas are off the 300-400 metre depth contours and mainly from Axim to Cape-Three points.
She also stated that the collaboration between the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development; the Ministry of Environment Science and Technology; the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum; the Ghana National Petroleum Authority, the Environmental Protection Agency; Oil companies and all related stakeholders had to continue.
She said with more emphasis to strengthen linkages existing to improve the harmonization of regulations governing the exploration and use of oil fossils for energy and fish for food.
“Within the Petroleum Exploration and Production Bill (2010), the necessary legal framework to address effects of seismic blasts which could affect aquatic life; and drilling discharges are being addressed.
“Other sectors for consideration are atmospheric and marine pollution, oil flaring air quality emissions; disposal and dumping of structures which could invariably affect marine and aquatic life and habitats are being addressed.
“Fisheries resources are not left behind and in the Fisheries Act 625 (2002) – Section 93 deals with fisheries impact assessments to be conducted prior to conducting any other activity apart from fishing in view of conservation and protection of marine resources,” she added.
Mr Noble Wadzah, the Coordinator of Oilwatch Ghana in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) observed that since the country embarked on oil exploration and production it had witnessed an unprecedented rise in the death of whales.
He said the organization seeks to minimize the negative socio-economic, political and environmental impacts and in the process curtail the conflict potential of oil discovery and extraction in Africa.
He said the surge in the death of marine mammals, particularly whales, should serve as a source of worry because it signals the gradual breakdown in the health of the ecosystem, and if left unchecked it would hold some negative outcome for biodiversity, livelihoods and food security.