Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Unveils Initiatives to Combat Illegal Fishing Impact on Ghana’s Economy
The Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mavis Hawa Koomson, has unveiled a series of measures aimed at addressing the detrimental effects of illegal fishing on Ghana’s economy.
Among the initiatives, a moratorium on new Artisanal Canoe Entrants has been announced, set to take effect from October 1, 2023, until September 30, 2026.
Minister Hawa Koomson highlighted the pressing need for these measures, citing the alarming rise in Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing activities. These activities include the use of undersized mesh nets, light fishing, and the deployment of chemicals and explosives, all of which contribute to unsustainable fishing practices and pose severe threats to Ghana’s marine resources.
In a poignant statement, the Minister remarked,
“You will agree with me that we no longer experience bumper catches like we used to in the 1970s and 90s when our women brought fish to the communities, shouting ‘eeigmon oo’ ‘eeigmon oo’.” She further emphasized the significance of staple meals like ‘abobi,’ ‘eban,’ and ‘saman,’ noting their affordability and nutritional value. The potential collapse of these vital fish species could have far-reaching socio-economic implications for Ghana.
The fisheries sector in Ghana encompasses artisanal, semi-industrial, and industrial fisheries. Notably, the marine artisanal fisheries subsector contributes approximately 70% to 80% of the total annual pelagic catch. This subsector relies on small-scale fishers and fish processors who employ traditional fishing methods involving small fishing vessels (canoes) for local consumption.
Minister Hawa Koomson acknowledged the importance of the artisanal fisheries subsector while also acknowledging the challenges it faces, including overcapacity, overfishing, low productivity, and reduced profitability. The decline in the small pelagic fish stock, which forms the backbone of this subsector, is particularly concerning.
With an open access regime that has seen the canoe fleet grow from 8,000 in 1990 to over 12,000 in 2023, the annual landings of small pelagic fish have plummeted from 119,000 metric tons in 1990 to 20,000 metric tons in 2022. For instance, the annual landings of Sardinella Aurita have fallen from 119,515 tonnes in 1992 to 11,834 tonnes in 2019, indicating a collapse in this vital fish stock. This decline significantly affects the livelihoods of over 3 million people throughout the value chain.
To address these critical issues, Minister Hawa Koomson announced the three-year moratorium on new canoe construction and entry into the fisheries sector, commencing on October 1, 2023. This strategic measure, combined with other government interventions, aims to alleviate the immense pressure on Ghana’s fisheries resources and facilitate the recovery of overexploited small pelagic fish stocks.
Minister Hawa Koomson further underscored the fisheries sector’s substantial contributions to nutrition, food security, employment, and poverty reduction in Ghana. These measures signify a concerted effort by the government to safeguard Ghana’s marine resources and ensure the long-term sustainability of its fisheries industry.
For the latest updates on these initiatives and their impact on Ghana’s fisheries sector, stay tuned to reliable news sources as the government continues to address the challenges posed by illegal fishing practices.