By Lydia Kukua Asamoah, GNA
Accra, April 16,
GNA - A community durbar has been held at Tsokomey in the Ga South Municipal
Assembly to mark the opening of a five-month long closed season of the Densu
Delta to usher in a period of oyster harvesting within the Municipality.
The closed season,
observed from November 2018 to April 2019, was geared towards increasing oyster
stocks for pickers around the Tsokomey, Tetegu, and Bortianor communities.
It is the second
season to be observed by the communities under a co-management programme
introduced in 2017 and being implemented with the support of the USAID’s Feed
the Future’ Sustainable Fisheries Management Programme (SFMP), the Development
Action Association (DAA), a non-governmental organisation, and the Fisheries
The oyster pickers
programme is one of the three pilot projects being implemented under the SFMP
in Ghana, to demonstrate the viability of coastal fisheries collaborative
Oysters are said to
be an important source of income and protein for the communities in and around
In 2017, the oyster
pickers were organised to form the Densu Estuary Women Oyster Pickers
Association (DOPA) and were educated on the basic science of oyster habitats
and reproduction, the importance of water quality, salinity, acidity, and
turbidity-how much dirt and sand is suspended in the water.
Co-management programme, the women have been trained on how to re-establish
oyster reefs by returning old shells back into the estuary to promote new
growth of baby oysters as well as planting over 10,000 mangrove seedlings for
the roots to serve as oyster habitats.
The observance of
the closed season, a plan to establish an ecologically and economically
sustainable oyster fishery, was developed in a participatory manner with the
inclusion of the oyster pickers, local authorities, traditional leaders, the
Wildlife Division, and the Fishery Commission.
It allows time for
the oysters to spawn and grow bigger, enabled the women to harvest more and
much bigger oysters, thereby improving their livelihoods and nutritional
Dubbed the Densu
Delta Oyster Harvesting Community Durbar, it was organised on Monday on the
theme: “Co-Management-Paving the Way for Effective Natural Resource
Mrs Elizabeth Naa
Afoley Quaye, Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, commended the
women around the area for showing great fortitude to support the effective and
sustainable management of the oyster natural resource in the Densu Delta.
“You did not wait
but saw the condition of declining oyster stocks and were willing to take
actions yourselves. You aligned your actions with the intentions of the
government by aligning your programme with our draft co-management policy,” she
She said based on
the success of the first closed season and over a year of scientific data that
was collected by the women themselves, the DOPA, decided to close the season
for a second period “and today we are here to open that season”.
“By closing their oyster harvesting for a set period every year, the Oyster pickers from Tetegu, Bortianor and Tsokomey are dealing with something that currently threatens the fish stocks on which Ghanaians most depend.
“They are together
addressing what is called open access fishing here in Ghana. In open access
fishing, anyone can go fishing anytime, without any restrictions”.
Ms Quaye said
currently, small pelagic fish, also known as ‘the people’s fish’ of anchovies,
mackerel, and sardinella, were nearly or already collapsed.
Like the science of the Densu oyster pickers, science shows that the ‘people’s fish stock’ would likely completely collapse within a few years unless drastic decisions were taken, she said.
“I see what you are
doing here as a great positive example and success story that we as MOFAD / FC
can draw lessons from in our bid to pilot co-management activities in the
marine and inland fisheries of Ghana”.
She commended the
USAID Ghana for its support for the marine fisheries sector through the US
Government’s Feed the Future programme, expressing the hope that such a
meaningful relationship would continue in the efforts to rebuild marine fish
stocks and improve the livelihoods of fishers.
Mr James G. Lykos,
Acting Team Leader of the USAID Ghana Economic Growth, said the successful
oyster closed season had proven that “when the responsibility for decision-making
is shared between government, citizens, and other stakeholders, resource
management is more effective and sustainable”.
He applauded the
media’s role in highlighting the critical issues in the fisheries sector, as a
good advocacy tool, for increasing public and private support for the sector,
which was facing several challenges, dwindling the fish stock, and posing
insecurity in the sector.
Madam Lydia Sasu,
the Executive Director of the Development Action Association, urged all the
community members and the traditional rulers in the area, to help sustain and
continue with the oyster closed season to help beef up the stock all year round.