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April 12 - 18, 2013


 Coastweek   Kenya

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Ghanaian government work
on dwindling fish stock

Fishing employs 10 percent of the country’s 24.4 million
population, contributing 12 percent of the Agriculture
Sector performance and 4.4 percent in overall GDP in 2012

ACCRA, Ghana (Xinhua) -- Ghanaian government said here Tuesday it would work with its social partners to find solutions to the dwindling fish stock in its territorial waters in the face of an infant oil and gas economy.

It has therefore encouraged its partners to raise and discuss substantial policy issues needing attention and direction to address the challenges of managing oil and fisheries.

Opening a day’s policy dialogue on “Oil Impact on Fisheries and Marine Resources” here, the minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Nayon Bilijo, expressed concern over activities having negative impact on the sustainability of the fisheries sector.

Bilijo promised to engage other ministers and stakeholders to have the challenges properly addressed.

The Western Regional Director of Ghana’s Fisheries Commission (FC), Alex Yaw Sarbah, had told Xinhua earlier the decrease in fish stock production was at an average of 10 to 12 per cent per year over the last 10 years.

The Executive Secretary of Corporate Social Responsibility Movement (CSRM), Richster Nii Armah Amarfio, one of the speakers at the session, lamented that the country had neglected fisheries conservation in the promulgation of the legal and institutional framework for the oil and gas sector.

“Ghana is in a fisheries crisis,” he told Xinhua in an interview, adding that Ghanaian authorities had given more priority to the extractive industry over the management of other natural resources.

The country has since 2009 introduced the new Petroleum Exploration and Production Act and the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, while establishing the Petroleum Commission and the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) to ensure prudent management of petroleum resources and revenue.

“From this, the policy gap is clear since there was no law introduced to sustain the existing marine life in the face of oil and gas exploration and production,” Amarfio observed.

He called for the empowerment of the FC to enable it to take action to protect fisheries and marine life.

Mike Abaka Edu, 48, a fisherman from Axim, 239 km west of the capital, also told Xinhua that, in spite of their dwindling fortunes, no alternative livelihood had been proposed to them by the authorities.

The director for Fisheries at the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Samuel Quartey, told Xinhua that government had started piloting alternative livelihood programs in some fishing communities.

“These include beads-making, traditional ‘Kente’ cloth weaving, and soap making piloted in parts of the Volta Region and Saltpond in the Central Region,” he said in a telephone interview.

He said these pilots would be intensified with fish-farming to be included this year for full-scale implementation in 2014.

Fishing employs 10 percent of the country’s 24.4 million population, contributing 12 percent of the Agriculture Sector performance and 4.4 percent in overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2012.

Official figures from the ministry said the country earned 256 million US dollars from fish exports in 2012.


Fish crisis could hit Ghana
in next two years: official

TAKORADI, Ghana (Xinhua) -- Ghana is likely to face fish crisis in the next few years if it does not take pragmatic measures to replenish its fisheries stock, a senior official of the Fisheries Commission (FC) has warned.

The Western Regional Director of the FC, Alex Yaw Sarbah, told Xinhua here on Friday the decrease in fish stock production had been at an average of 10 to 12 per cent per year over the last ten years.

The statistics available to the Commission also indicate that there has been a consistent decline in the country’s fish stock over the last two decades without much intervention to reverse the negative trend.

Sarbah said the West African country’s projected fish demand for the year 2012 was over 1,044, 226 metric tons but received a little over 584,767 metric tons, adding that if the trend continued, the country would not be able to meet its fish demand target.

He said Ghana was considered one of the highest fish consuming countries in the world, at the rate of 25 kilos per capita as against a world average of 15 kilos per capita.

“Our entire fish stock is declining, and considering the growth of our population, it shouldn’t surprise you if we are struck by fish crisis in the next few years,” he indicated.

He said Ghana was currently unable to meet even half of its fisheries requirement and therefore had to import to supplement the local stock.

“In 2010 for instance, we had to import almost 200,000 metric tons of fish to meet the country’s demand,” he said.

He attributed the decline in fish stock to illegal fishing methods and environmental factors such as climate change, use of light for fishing, undersized meshes and monofilament nets as some of the causes for the decline.

“Fingerling and fishes which are due to reproduce are actually swept out from the sea in some of these illegal fishing practices.

“Currently, almost the entire generation of species such as palegic and sardinellla found in our waters are being swept out with the exception of tuna,” he said.

Sarbah said although the FC had been educating the fishing communities and collaborating with the security agencies to enforce the fisheries regulations to curb such illegal practices, government would have to invest more in the country’s fishing industry, especially in aqua-culture to salvage the situation.

Meanwhile, some Non-governmental Organizations (NGO’s) in the fishing sector have expressed dissatisfaction over what they describe as the lukewarm attitude of government in solving the country’s fisheries problems.

Kofi Agbogah, the Programs Manager of Coastal Resource Center (CRC), pointed out that government’s subsidies on premix fuel and canoes would in no way solve the challenges in the fishing industry but rather worsen it.

He explained that such incentives attracted more people into the industry which would rather speed up the depletion of the marine resources, adding that what needed to be done now was to ensure enforcement of the fisheries laws and huge investments in aqua-culture.

Experts in the fishing sector are therefore urging government to make such interventions immediately to reverse the negative trend.


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