Business News of Tuesday, 26 February 2013
Ghana’s peak catch of fish has dwindled from 120,000 metric tonnes to 30,000 tonnes within ten years, the Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Ms. Cheryl Anderson revealed on Tuesday.
She described the ‘significant drop’ in the catch of fish particularly by artisan fishermen as “true crisis” and indicated that the unsustainable fishing practices in the country must be halted immediately to save the industry from collapse.
Ms. Anderson made this known at the 3rd National Fisheries Governance Dialogue being organized by the Coastal Resources Center and its partners at Elmina, to propose a framework for the effective fisheries co-management that would ensure the necessary enabling policies and action.
The Coastal Resources Centre and its partners are the implementers of the Integrated Coastal and Fisheries Initiative (locally referred to as Hen Mpoano) with financial support from the USAID.
The two-day Stakeholder’s Dialogue is being attended by Members of Parliament, traditional leaders, district chief executives, fisheries stakeholders, international consultants, chairman and officials of Fisheries Commission and World Bank representatives.
Ms. Anderson pointed out that artisanal fishermen contribute about 70% of the total national fish input in the country and since many families depended on fish as their source of protein, it would be prudent to take maximum measures to stem the depletion of the fish stock in the country’s marine waters.
New policies will help stem the situation where Ghana will suffer the fate of other countries that has had its fish stocks depleted significantly, she added.
The Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mr. Nayon Bilijo said the fisheries sector contributed about 4.5 per cent to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), whilst 60 per cent of Ghana’s population depended on fish for its protein requirement.
He said when well harnessed, the sector could contribute to food security but despite the benefits, the fishing industry had not been able to achieve its full potential whilst the fishing communities still wallow in poverty.
Mr. Bilijo said the Ministry would therefore welcome a new framework to encourage fisheries co-management in the country and also support aquaculture development to ensure sustainable development of the sector and appealed to the participants to make input that would help turn the fortunes of the sector around for the better.
The Director of Hen Mpoano, Mr. Kofi Agbogah stressed the need for the building of strong institutions for the effective management of the coastal resources in Ghana and stated that it was time the roles of fisherfolks were defined and clarified to help identify the gaps in fisheries management.
The MP for Takoradi, Mr. Gabby Okyere Darko Mensah, who chaired the function, called for the fishing sector to be managed in a sustainable manner to guard the livelihood of the fishing community as well as provide the needed protein requirement of the country.
He noted that the depletion of marine fish stock called for a strong legislation to aid effective co-management of the industry to help shoot up catch.