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Department of Geography

Addressing impacts of oil and gas extraction on fishing in Axim

My master prosject is addressing fisheries governance and the concerns of fisher folks with regards to oil and gas extraction activities in Axim, Ghana.

This study seeks to explore how the concerns regarding the impacts of oil and gas extraction activities on fishing in Axim are being addressed by the various fisheries governance institutions at the national, regional and local levels.

Fishing is a very important economic activity in Ghana. It employs about 10% of the country's labourforce, of which majority are in the small scale (canoe) fisheries. In recent times the industry (especially the canoe fleet) has been on the decline in terms of its catch per unit output and general contribution to the Ghanaian economy.

Diverse explanations have been given for the causes of these declines which includes; use of chemicals and light for fishing, use of unapproved fishing nets, illegal trawlers, increased population (more people chasing 'few' fish) and poor fisheries governance system. In addition to these possible factors, recent studies and some stakeholders (mostly in local fishing communities) suggest that the country’s recent oil and gas extraction activities offshore, which commenced in commercial quantities in 2010 could be a major contributing factor to the fishing output decline.

Among some of the cited concerns regarding the oil extraction activities include; loss of fishing grounds, canoe incursion with oil vessels, attraction of fish by lights around the oil rigs and harassment of fisher folks by enforcement units offshore. Studies suggest that these concerns have been viewed somewhat differently by various stakeholders.

This study seeks to explore how the concerns regarding the impacts of oil and gas extraction activities on fishing in Axim are being addressed by the various fisheries governance institutions at the national, regional and local levels.

Fieldwork experiences

Axim is known to be a prominent fishing town in Ghana and its location to the Jubilee oil fields in Ghana is relatively close. I had been to Axim on a number of occasions before my fieldwork. Hence, my fieldwork was a study more or less home away from home but with a different ideological lenses. studying things which I had taken for granted in such a familiar area and dealing with people of different lines of thoughts where I had to find ways to reduce possible research biases proved quite challenging and had to find various ways to deal with it.

In sum, my fieldwork was quite challenging but served as an opportunity to practically have a feel of the various lines of thoughts of informants, to understand some of the concepts and theories I had learnt in school.

Studying geography in Bergen

Prior to my admission I had known the University of Bergen to be among the top-class schools in Europe and globally. Thus, having the opportunity to study geography in this school was a dream come true.

I have never regretted studying here because I have been exposed to various ways to analyse and think critically about various societal issues, through their avid lecturers and interesting courses.

Supervisor

Ragnhild Overå