Abuesi

Drying fish. Photo by Christiane Badgley

Imagine a place where fishing is the only game in town. Then imagine just how nervous the residents must be about offshore oil drilling.

The place is Abuesi, a small town at the water’s edge about 30 minutes down the road from Takoradi.

Abuesi, Western Region, Ghana. Photo by Christiane Badgley

In one way or another, everyone here depends on fishing. The men take out the canoes. They return from sea and sell their catch to their wives, mothers and sisters. The women dry and smoke the fish, then sell it again to buyers who will take it away to sell in other markets. Others get involved in the fishing business by financing the canoes. Basically everyone here who can work does something related to fishing.

People here are nervous about Ghana’s offshore drilling. They fish relatively close to shore, so they are not directly affected by the fishing ban at the Jubilee field. What they fear are oil spills.

They heard about what happened last year in the Gulf of Mexico and they know that fishermen were out of work for months. They also know that in the U.S., the government and BP were able to provide financial assistance to the fishermen who were left without any source of income.

Smoked fish, ready for market. Photo by Christiane Badgley

In Ghana there is not yet any funding mechanism in place that can assure the livelihoods of fishing communities who are totally dependent on fishing.  I said in my last post that an oil spill would have devastating consequences on both the local environment and the local economy. It is difficult to imagine how bad things could be, but when you come to these villages and meet with people who have many mouths to feed and know nothing but fishing, you understand the fear.

Abuesi is not alone; the entire coastline of Ghana and the Western Region is dotted with communities like Abuesi. 

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