Oil and Fisheries in Ghana: Prospects for a Socio-ecological Compact
Fisheries play a crucial role in supporting livelihoods and food security in Ghana. While there is a sizable industrial fishing fleet, more than two-thirds of Ghana’s total marine fish catch is accounted for by artisanal fishers.
These fishers now share Ghana’s marine domain with the country’s emerging oil sector, an industry that has raised hopes of a significant economic boost for the country while at the same time eliciting concerns around potential environmental and social impacts. This paper explores the relationship between Ghana’s oil and gas sector and the artisanal fishery sector, highlighting areas where greater co-operation may support improved trust between stakeholders and contribute to the long-term sustainability of Ghana’s artisanal fisheries.
The current debate focuses on minimising negative impacts of the oil sector, but the paper argues for a more constructive engagement that would see effective partnerships addressing the broad set of stressors and challenges currently facing the artisanal fisheries sector. Increasingly, stakeholders are accepting that the oil sector is not the most important threat to the long-term sustainability of Ghana’s small-scale fisheries. However, more needs to be done to explore opportunities through which the oil sector, together with government authorities and other stakeholders, can support artisanal fisheries in addressing the core challenges facing the sector. These challenges include fleet overcapacity, the widespread use of illegal fishing gears, climate change, pollution, a lack of research to inform fisheries management decision-making, and a lack of marine protected areas to support stock recovery.