Fishermen wail over sea weed; blame oil production
5/28/2012 5:03:49 PM -
Fishermen along the western coast of the Western Region say the recent invasion of sea weed known as sargassum is affecting their livelihood.
They suspect the new phenomenon is as a result of the oil production, but experts have been quick to deny.
Sargassum is free-floating seaweed found offshore in mats throughout the coast.
These mats of vegetation provide crucial habitat as well as food for a wide variety of marine animals in the open ocean, such as tuna, dolphin, as well as sea turtles and marine birds.
However, floating mats of Sargassum prevents canoes from going far to the high seas to fish because it clogs their engines.
When a team of journalists got to some of the shores along the jubilee fields like Shama, Axim, Discove, and Half Asini, floating debris of the weeds had formed floating mats and creating an eyesore.
Large mat of weeds have been cast on shores and tend to give out offensive smell when rotten.
This has compounded the work of Zoil, the group of cleaners mandated to clean the beach.
According to them, the weeds come so much that they are unable to clear them on time.
They also say there are no chemicals to get rid of the weeds so they are forced to use their bare hands to clear the weeds.
'It is very difficult for us. We are unable to clear the weeds as they keep on coming in volumes' Kwame Ntow leader of the cleaners said.
About two thousand fishermen in Shama, Axim, Discove, and Half Asini are accusing the jubilee partners of being behind the invasion.
The fishermen say the situation has compelled them to suspend fishing activities. They say it is to avoid the destruction of their nets by the substance that moves in volumes.
'We are reliably informed that, the jubilee partners undertake some blasting under the sea and this makes the weeds to come in volumes' said Kwame Kakraba one of the fishermen.
Another one, Kofi Noku, said, 'This is the first time fishermen are experiencing such weeds. And it is the oil production that has brought it'.
However, some experts disagree with the notion that, it is as a result of the production of the oil.
Kofi Agbogah is program coordinator for the Integrated Coastal and Fisheries Governance Initiative and according to him; the issue has got to do more with fishing habits than oil.
He said sargassum is food and habitat for marine animals and so the more the fishermen harvest every fish the more the weeds grow since it is feed for the fish.
'Recent sargassum invasion is not as a result of the oil production. Sargassum has nothing to do with oil, it is the way the fishermen harvest every fish from the sea that is causing its widespread', he said.
He said in other parts of the world, sargassum is used for food, cosmetics and other things that are useful.
He therefore said government should take a second look at this and see how best Ghana can make sargassum a blessing than a curse.
Kofi Agbogah noted that Ghana will have to take a second look at our marine laws in order prevent the blooming of the weeds.
He also spoke of plans to solve the invasion of algae another sea weed that worries the fishermen.
He noted, 'until our fishermen start respecting international marine laws and our authorities start enforcing the laws as to the right nets, the right size and kind of fish, the invasion could be more'.
Now nobody knows when the sargassum attacks will cease and will our policy makers be willing to enforce our marine policies? Only time will tell.