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The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has hinted of plans by government to acquire a research vessel to help fisheries management and to ensure the long-term conservation of the country’s waters and the marine stocks.
Additionally, an inter-ministerial committee will also be set up to complement an existing government fisheries management plan, with key objectives to help reduce the excessive pressure on marine stock, help effective legislation and strengthen participatory decision-making to meeting regional and international obligations.
The President observed that although fish constitute a substantial portion of the Ghanaian diet, and are essential to the livelihood and economy of Ghana, illegal fishing, climate change and other human activities continue to pose a serious threat to the country’s fish stock.
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo made these observations at the welcoming ceremony of the new research vessel, R/V Dr Fridtjof Nansen to Ghana, at Tema.
The new marine research vessel, RV Dr Fridtjof Nansen, is owned by the Norwegian Agency for Development Co-operation (NORAD). The vessel was built as part of the United Nations’ (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) project and is jointly operated by the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) and the University of Bergen (UIB) to help developing countries improve their fisheries management.
The President observed that although the country may not have control over all the factors negatively affecting the country’s fish stock, majority of them are within the purview of government to effect positive change.
“We may have little or no control over climate fluctuations or changes, but one thing we can have control over is our day-to-day activities. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) methods are depleting our fish stocks. Our beautiful coastal wetlands are threatened by high volumes of plastic and metal waste that choke breeding habitats for fish. This must not be allowed to continue…Together, we can protect endangered species, achieve food security, and protect our ocean for the future”.
According to statistics provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, the country has huge fish production deficit with over 600,000 metric tonnes annually.
According to the figures, Ghana produced only 440,000 metric tonnes of fish annually, instead of one million metric tonnes needed by fish consumers, thus falling short by over 50 per cent.
The President observed that in recent times, nearly all of Ghana’s marine fisheries and some inland fisheries have been overfished.
This, he said, is buttressed by the last stock survey conducted in April 2016, which showed that sardines, the dominant fish stock, are disappearing from the Ghanaian waters.
“Although population growth can be said to be a contributory factor, the ‘twin-evils’ of illegal fishing and the over-exploitation of our marine resources have worsened an already dire situation. This cannot continue to happen, as it threatens the very essence of our existence”, he reiterated.
The Norwegian Ambassador to Ghana, H.E. Gunnar Andreas Holm, noted that despite the importance of the fishing industry to national development, many countries are not aware of their fish stock.
He was hopeful that scientific data that will be provided by the new vessel would be put to use to help Ghana in implementing policies to manage its stock in a sustainable manner.
“The data must be used, policies must be implemented and enforced, otherwise the efforts are in vain,” he stressed.
Dr Abebe Haile Gabriel, the food and agricultural organisation representative in Ghana, lauded Ghana’s initiative to prioritise agricultural development in Ghana. He added that the use of research provided by the project will afford Ghana a better understanding of climate change on aquatic life and how to regulate her fisheries management.
Source: Daniel Nonor || The Finder