Cape Coast, July 31, GNA – Stakeholders in the fishing industry are considering the adoption of potential management options to save the country’s small pelagic fishery from collapsing.
The options include ending open access, closed seasons, closed fishing areas, additional weekly fishing holidays , increased net mesh size, cap and reduction in the number of canoes, daily landing quota , removal of fuel subsidies and territorial use rights.
The landing of small pelagic fishes such as sardines, mackerel and anchovies, are fast declining in the country due to weak governance, over-capacity and open access fishery that allow overfishing from an increasing number of boats and fishers.
This was made known at a media orientation workshop on the USAID/ Ghana Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP).
The workshop, attended by more than 20 participants in the Central, Western and Greater Accra Regions was aimed at heightening the awareness in environmental reporting, the SFMP, and reversing the alarming state of the fisheries industry.
Mr Kyei Yamoah, Programmes coordinator of Friends of the Nation, a non for profit organisation, said stakeholders in the Western, Central, Volta and Greater Accra Regions have been consulted and have endorsed some of the options.
He said the 24-million- dollar USAID/ SFMP which was awarded in October last year, is a five year programme aimed at rebuilding the marine fisheries stocks and catches through the adoption of responsible fishing practices.
He said it would contribute to the government’s fisheries development objectives and USAID’s Feed the Future Initiative goals of improved food security, economic growth and poverty alleviation.
Mr Kyei said a national dialogue, other consultations and massive communication, would be held after which the chosen options would be presented to the government for legal backing, enforcement and implementation.
He said responses from stakeholders indicated that they are concerned about the current situation of the industry and desire some change to safeguard it.
Dr Brian Crawford, Chief of Party, SFMP expressed worry at the rate the fish stock is declining and expressed the need for stakeholders to stop the blame game over the situation and consider the adoption of the options to restock.
Mr Crawford noted that Ghana has a high nutritional and economic dependency on fish indicating that the annual yield was pegged around 750,000 metric tons with 84 per cent from small-scale sector.
He said the sector contributed to 4.5 per cent of Gross Domestic Product, directly employs 375,000 of which 150,000 are women and indirectly supports livelihoods of 2.2 million people.
For this reason, measures must be put in place to safeguard the industry.
Mr Thomas Insaidoo, Deputy Director, Fisheries Commission, stated that the sector has not performed to expectation in spite of the great potential due to factors such as open access fishing-property of the commons, use of unorthodox methods and unauthorised and weak institutional linkages.
He said the aquaculture sector is soaring with production increasing from 7,153.69 metric tonnes in 2009 to 38,547 metric tonnes in 2014.
He said that the commission is making efforts to address such problems especially through projects such as SFMP and therefore called on stakeholders to play their roles in saving the country‘s fishing industry.
He asked the media to continue to play its watch dog role and enlighten the citizenry on the state of the industry.