Fishing in troubled waters: oil production, seaweed and community-level grievances in the Western Region of Ghana

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This paper examines perspectives on the recent proliferation of sargassum (free-floating seaweed) in the oil-producing region of Ghana. The shores of many fishing villages surrounding Ghana's Jubilee Oil Field are now covered with decomposing sargassum, which, in addition to releasing offensive smells, clogs the fishing nets and boat engines of local fishermen, in turn, disrupting livelihoods considerably. Fishermen from villages such as Cape Three Points have linked the ‘blackened’ colour of rotting sargassum to the recent commencement of oil production, calling on the government to discipline Tullow, the main company operating in the Jubilee Oil Field, and to compensate them accordingly. Representatives from the government and Tullow have countered by stating that the growing presence of sargassum, which is an important source of food for numerous aquatic species, has more to do with local fishing habits: that it is a result of overfishing, not oil production. Whether this phenomenon is coincidental or not, the response of both policy-makers and government officials to mounting grievances over sargassum has been woefully inadequate, and fairly symptomatic of the approach being taken overall to foster development in communities affected by oil production in Ghana and the wider sub-region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-420
Number of pages15
JournalCommunity Development Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2013

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