Understanding the conflict between the oil and gas industries and small-scale fisheries in the Western region of Ghana

Owusu, Bernard (2018) Understanding the conflict between the oil and gas industries and small-scale fisheries in the Western region of Ghana. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Ghana is a relatively new producer of oil and gas in the sub-Saharan African region. Commercial oil and gas production and their expansion have the potential to enhance economic and social development. However, the enclosure of the Gulf of Guinea for oil and gas commodification has led to conflicts over ocean space once used for small-scale food fisheries. Fishing has been banned within a 500m radius of all offshore oil rigs and other infrastructure while the bright lights of the oil rigs attract fish into the ‘no-go’ zones creating a network of de facto Marine Protected Areas (MPA). Fishing around the oil rigs is illegal leading to conflicts and growing resistance from small-scale fishers. The literature argues that where conflict has occurred in states endowed with natural resources in sub-Saharan Africa, the resource curse theory gives the best explanation for why conflicts around natural resources occur. The conflict between small-scale fisheries and the oil and gas industry in Ghana, is considered an example of the resource curse. The thesis reveals resource curse tendencies such as corruption and the mismanagement of oil rents and growing inequality and poverty. However, the resource curse argument has been critiqued as uncritical, reductionist and above all ahistorical. The study therefore suggests that as an alternative way to understand the conflict, analysis must move beyond the resource curse narratives to the historical geography of resource grabs tied to the creation of enclaves and commodity frontiers. The study uses the changing toponymy of maps of the region, analyzes texts, and images to understand how ocean space in the Western region of Ghana is understood, represented and transformed over time by different resource actors. It concludes that despite the heavily commodified resource extraction along the Western region’s coast since the fifteenth century, oil and gas exploitation is the first commodity frontier to directly appropriate ocean space from fisheries. This has resulted in the enclosure and depletion of a nationally important food source. The oil and gas exploitation has therefore resulted in a decline in food security and sovereignty in a country that has a very high per capita fish consumption rate.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/13190
Item ID: 13190
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references.
Keywords: Conflict, Small- Scale fisheries, Oil and gas, Ghana, Resource curse, Historical Geography
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Geography
Date: May 2018
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Natural resources -- Ghana -- Management; Oil industries -- Ghana; Small-scale fisheries -- Ghana; Resource curse

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