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Opinions of Sunday, 6 November 2011

Columnist: Adutwum, Owura Kwaku

HELP SAVE Our Beloved Old Lake Bosomtwi

from Commercial Fish Farming!!!

The Alert

Like everything else, while other nations are striving for a uniform set of standards in eradicating all dimensions of pollution and diseases from commercial fish farming even on high seas, Ghana our Motherland copies and follows blindly; even at the expense of losing the one of the natural rainforest lakes in the world.

Yes; although fish farming will provide you with the Tilapia you desire, why do you resort to aquaculture in Lake Bosomtwi as opposed to other channels such as the Volta Lake which has outlets or in ground ponds?

Allowing Fish Farming inside the waters of Lake Bosomtwi will have serious, devastating ramifications on the lake’s ecological system, if not the entire lake basin environment; thus, should be banned with immediate effect by authorities designated to protect our environment.

In is important to note that Lake Bosomtwi is a close-ended fresh water lake. In other words, the lake has no outlet and no streams or rivers flowing in or out of it. The lake is synonymous with a stagnant fresh-water tank, which is capable of naturally sustaining its ecology and its own breed of Tilapia. This should not invite or license investors to flock there and raise fish in commercial quantities inside the lake.

With the highest urgency, the Ghana Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ministry of Lands, Forestry & Mines should share all ecological sustainability studies conducted on commercial fish farming activities in the waters of Lake Bosomtwi with the Ghanaian public. If by any chance, any governmental agency has approved or cleared investors to go ahead and to participate in commercial fishing activities in the waters of Lake Bosomtwi, it should educate the general public on its findings from all social and environmental cost-benefits analysis conducted prior to the approval. To avoid discussing the technicalities of commercial fish farming and its negative impact on the Lake, below is a synopsis of what we risk losing form this activity:

Questions for our Authorities

Are we as a nation converting Lake Bosomtwi into a septic tank with sewage from biomass, nitrogen, phosphorous, PCBs, disease contaminations and other chemical waste resulting from aquaculture? Why would anyone want to alter this ecology and overstock this lake / tank with commercial quantities net bound fishes which would be fed and treated with chemicals and expose the natural wild Tilapia to pollution and diseases?

Eventually, will the fish produced in a contaminated lake be worth consuming in the long run? What is the contingency plan to protect the wild Tilapia spices in case there is a disease out break in the lake? Are local communities still expected to use the lake’s water for domestic purposes after fish feed, overstocking excreta, and chemicals are dumped in the Lake? Who is regulating these actives or is this one of the oversights that legislature needs to address?

About Lake Bosomtwi the Beautiful

1.07 million years ago, Lake Bosomtwi was created by a massive rock that came from the skies with high speed and force, smashed the ground and exploded leaving behind a huge deep hole in the ground. Then rains from the heavens poured down afterwards for thousands of years to fill this huge hole with rain water along with some fresh spring ground waters to fill this huge hole up with fresh waters. Over the million years, nature carefully crafted a beautiful rain forest around the lake and filled it with 4 spices of tilapia of which some cannot be found anywhere else in the whole world.

Over the million years, Lake Bosomtwi has survived prolonged droughts and floods therefore experiencing extreme variation in water levels. Today it is measured at 10miles by 14miles with the deepest depth of 78 meters (240ft).

For us in the forest belts of Ghana, it is our beach and it has also fed us with natural organic mmpatreh (Tilapia) for centuries (without farm raised fish). Our forefathers have fought many wars over its Tilapia and ownership of its rich and fertile lands but now at the end of all that, it has brought us all a peaceful sight for reflections, pleasure and tranquility. The Lake Bosomtwi Basin has provided livelihood for hundreds of generations of inhabitants of which 80,000 still fish and farm around the lake today. Local fishermen are allowed to fish using on planks basic techniques as a means of managing over-fishing and this is why canoes used for fishing purposed are banned on Lake Bosomtwi by traditional authorities.

Where else would you recommend to a tourist as number 1 destination in Kumasi if not Lake Bosomtwi? An estimated 30,000 people visit the Lake during holiday celebrations for recreation in a single day.

In 2005 when world class scientist and researchers needed data to study climatic changes in today’s world and to help predict future climatic changes, they resorted to Lake Bosomtwi which served as a natural historic archive or climatic records beneath its waters. Surely Lake Bosomtwi delivered clues and records from its bottom deposits without failure which enabled the researcher to conduct their studies. They describe the lake as “Natural and well preserved” fresh waters hard to find anywhere else in the world today.

The Lake is a god to the Asantes and it is their belief that Lake Bosomtwi is a passageway for their souls to travel through to life after death.

It is in consideration of all these wonders, beauty and many more reasons why the UNESCO has labeled the Lake Bosomtwi Basin as a World Heritage Site.

Dooms Day Scenario

When temperatures, nutrient supply from chemicals from fish farming and sunlight are optimal for algal growth in the Lake, then the algae will multiply their biomass at an exponential rate, eventually leading to an exhaustion of available nutrients in the close-ended Lake and a subsequent die-off. The decaying algal biomass will deplete the oxygen in the Lake waters because it blocks out the sun and pollutes it with organic and inorganic solutes (such as ammonium ions), which frequently lead to massive loss of fish. Remember the water hyacinths that dominated our water bodies in the 1980s?

I would like to hear your thoughts on this issue.

Writer: Owura Kwaku Adutwum

Contact: Owuraku_asante@hotmail.com