The high cost of Marine Gas Oil (MGO) – representing as much as 70 percent of industrial and semi-industrial vessels operational cost – is pushing local vessels to patronise the product offshore, Simon Aggah, Acting President of National Fisheries Association of Ghana (NAFAG), has revealed.
He explained that due to the high price build-up which has led to this decision by the vessels, government is being deprived of needed revenue in taxes; thus putting pressure on the local currency due to use of foreign exchange to purchase the product.
“The strategic importance of Marine Gas Oil in the operation of industrial and semi-industrial vessels cannot be underrated,” Mr. Aggah told the B&FT in an interview.
“The availability of marine gas oil at affordable prices would encourage operators to bunker at shore, rather than the current practice of bunkering offshore with its attendant negative consequence – including but not limited to loss of revenue to government, possible pollution of the sea, and others,” he said.
To Mr. Aggah, Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) in the country should up their game by ensuring the availability of adequate volumes of product, together with attendant logistics to ensure prompt, affordable and safe service delivery to industrial and semi-industrial vessels.
He also called on government to acquire a fishing research-vessel to gather data on the country’s fish stocks and guide them as to what is available in the sea. This, he noted, would assist the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development to put in place appropriate measures to replenish dwindling stock and available untapped stock.
He also appealed for government to assist in curbing acts of piracy against Ghanaian-flagged vessels; particularly Tuna vessels which have borne the brunt of piracy activities within the last few months.
“The piracy issue is becoming a very serious situation, and our vessels – especially those with foreign crews – are targetted. They are not interested in hijacking the vessels any more: they take the captains and officers hostage to Nigeria or wherever, hold them in detention and take ransom.
“Currently, two Korean crew – a Captain and Chief-engineer, have been in captivity somewhere in Nigeria for over a month now without communication. The Captain communicated just once, and since then nothing has been heard,” Mr. Aggah disclosed.
The industry has engaged stakeholders including the Multinational Maritime Coordinating Centre (MMCC), Ghana Navy and Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), all aimed at taking appropriate steps to curb criminal activities by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.