This year, the Environmental Film Festival of Accra(EFFA) will take place from 7th to 13th December2017 with the focus on Ghana’s Maritime Environment. This special edition of EFFA will raise public awareness on the importance of Ghana’s maritime environment, highlight its significance to socio – economic progress and sustainability and the need to protect it.A range of thematic areas such as health and safety, pollution prevention, marine life protection, as well as cross cutting issues related to oil and gas, energy fishing, shipping, mining, agriculture, tourism and other sea and land based industries will all be explored in order to heighten public awareness and find positive solutions to ongoing challenges.
Time Magazine described EFFA as “the stellar festival of Africa”, the only festival in Africa dedicated solely to the environment and unique for its presentation of local and international films; films that have the power to help us change the way we think about our environment.
Significantly, EFFA 2017 includes projects and activities that will sustain public interest and community participation over the next two years. In November 2017, the critically acclaimed Environment Channel Television Serieswill be launched and broadcast on prime timetelevision. A national forum will bring together corporates, NGO’s, experts and the media to discuss Ghana’s Maritime Environment. There will also be educational projects in Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western regions, including creative workshops and drawing competition for JSS and SSS students and open air screenings and durbars in coastal communities.EFFA’s local media engagements and international syndication will publish regular reports and release documentaries in both the traditional and social media.
The Maritime Environment
Ghana’s maritime environment is located in the Gulf of Guinea, West Africa with an open acreage offshore of about 23,000 square kilometres. The coastline covers 550 km, stretching from Aflao in the east to Half Assini in the west. There is also the onshore Volta Basin of about 103,000 square kilometres, from Akosombo Hydro electric dam that supplies a significant amount of Ghana’s energy needs to Ntereso in the north.
25% of Ghana’s population lives within the coastal zone, making this ecological area critical to the country’s security and economy.There are special landmarks;Accra, Ghana’s capital and centre of government and business, Tema industrial zone and port, historic tourist sites at Cape Coast and Elmina, Thermal and Gas processing plants at Aboadze and Atuabo and Takoradi, centre of Ghana’s new oil industry and port.
Oil was discovered in commercial quantities in the Jubilee Fields in Western region in 2007. Currently, FPSO Kwame Nkrumah is capable of processing more than 120,000 barrels of oil per day, FPSO John Atta Mills 80,000 and FPSO John Agyekum Kufour, 58,000 barrels of oil a day.
The oil sector is now significant for Ghana’s economy, hence the importance of protecting the oilfields especially from pollution. The density of marine traffic, including oil tankers, in close proximity to the coast presents a fairly high risk of marine oil pollution from possible blowouts, collisions and other marine accidents.There are precedents; in April 2010, a final cement seal of an oil well in the Gulf of Mexico failed, causing one of the worst environmental disasters. For 87 days, oil and methane gas spewed from an uncapped wellhead, a mile below the surface of the ocean.
In Ghana, such a disaster can threaten beaches and hotels, marine life, fisheries and other coastal industries with devastating impact on the economy and livelihoods. If the oil spill affects Volta estuary and other waterways, the damage can extend into Ghana’s interior regions.
Marine fisheries accounts for nearly 80 per cent of Ghana’s fisheries sector and serves as a major source of livelihood along the coastline, Large scale salt production using sea water is also significant in coastal towns such as Pomadze. A Sea Water Desalination Plant in Teshie Nungua, near Accra produces 13 million gallons of water per day from sea water for over 500,000 people.
Also located along Ghana’s coastal zone are a number of lagoons, estuaries, and mangroves important for fish spawning, and roosting for local and migrant birds. The coastline serves as important nesting ground for marine turtles. These need protecting from pollution. The dumping of plastic waste is now a serious concern.Ghana possesses significant ecological assets in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. These include a unique stretch of coral reefs, measuring about 1.4 kilometers long and 70 meters high south west of Half – Assini in Western Region.