The objective of this paper is to describe the process and results of the multi-stakeholder approach to solving marine zone conflicts which could serve as a reference for managing impacts of offshore E&P in other countries. Ghana's fishers and coastal communities had raised many concerns over the potential adverse impacts of offshore oil exploration and production prior to the development of the giant Jubilee field nearly a decade ago. Government officials have worked to filter the noise and misperceptions from the legitimate concerns in an effort to focus management efforts and communications on addressing actual impacts.
In 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Ghana in collaboration with other stakeholders initiated an Independent Study to ascertain the impacts of Exploration and Production on fisheries and the Marine environment as an important step in defining the way forward. The study included extensive interview and consultation with various stakeholders and produced series of recommendations that were carefully vetted with these stakeholders.
Implementing these recommendations in a manner that is inclusive of broad stakeholder interests to ensure peaceful coexistence between the fisheries and oil and gas sectors and harmonious utilization of the marine environment is inherently associated with critical challenges. To address these critical challenges, the Ministry of Fisheries, with support from offshore E&P operators and the Independent Study team launched a multi-stakeholder Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee with a specific charter and work plan for implementing recommended actions of the Independent Study.
Under the guidance of the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee, a Coastal and Marine Sector Action Plan with activities categorized into seven priority areas was developed to address the main concerns of stakeholders. An Inter-Ministerial Oversight Committee (IMOC) is to be established to provide leverage for the implementation of the Action plan.