Ghana's fishing communities have lost a passionate defender.
Edlove Quarshie, fisherman, activist and officer in Ghana's Line Hook Canoe Fishermen's Association has passed away. I heard the news in Sekondi.
There are a growing number of offshore drilling operations in the Western Region and I wanted to talk to Quarshie about the new drilling and its impact on fishing. That is when I learned that he died in Accra a few days ago. No one had much information; Quarshie had been ill and had traveled to Accra for medical attention.
I did not know Quarshie well, but when we met I was struck by his passion--for fishing, fishing communities and Ghana's environment. He was generous with his time, always willing to help with information or contacts.
Quarshie's passing comes at a critical time for Ghana's fishermen: fish stocks are down and the offshore oil industry is rapidly expanding. There have been seven new oil discoveries in the Western Region in the past months; drilling is now moving full speed ahead at three locations. As oil production increases, so does the industry's offshore footprint. For the fishermen, this means more no-fishing zones and, possibly, more conflict with authorities.
Kyei Kwadwo Yamoah, program coordinator at Friends of the Nation in Sekondi, told me Quarshie's voice will be greatly missed. "He was dynamic, motivated and worked hard for the interests of the fishing community," said Yamoah. Quarshie wanted the oil companies to train fishermen and pledge to hire them for clean-up operations in the event of an oil spill. He campaigned for a compensation fund for fishing communities.
Quarshie was actively working on the oil issue, but that was just one of his campaigns. He spent a great deal of his time working to educate fishermen about sustainable fishing practices--critical for the survival of Ghana's fishing industry.
You can watch a short video we did with Quarshie in June, Fish vs. Oil Part 1: A Delicate Balance. I have much more footage to edit, but it will be hard, knowing there will be no follow-up.
Rest in peace, Edlove Quarshie.