Ghana government called upon to solve algae problem
Two traditional rulers in Eastern Nzema and Western Nzema have appealed to the government to solve the algae problem that is affecting fishing.
They expressed regret that since the 1990s the algae, commonly known among the people as “green-green”, had spread on the sea and it is hampering fishing in the three coastal districts of the area.
The heavily affected districts are Ellembelle, Jomoro and Nzema East/West whose fishermen are now redundant because of the algae that usually entangles fishing nets and other gear resulting in little or no catch.
The chiefs are Awulae Osagyefo Amihere Panyili 11, the Paramount Chief of Eastern Nzema and Awulae Annor Adjaye 111, the Paramount Chief of Western Nzema, said this at separate interactions in their palaces with officials of the USAID and Coastal Resources Centre (CRC).
The officials toured the beaches in the affected coastal areas to assess the severity of the algae situation on the impact of the economic survival of the people with a view to supporting Ghana to find solution to the problem.
The USAID has funded a 10 million-dollar four-year project, the Integrated Coastal and Fisheries Governance (ICFG) also known as “Hen Mpoano” (Our Coast), which began in October 2009 and being implemented by CRC of the University of Rhode Island.
Six coastal districts have been chosen for the four year pilot project and these are Ellembelle, Jomoro, Nzema East/West, Ahanta West, Shama and Secondi-Takoradi districts.
Awulae Amihere Panyili and Annor Adjaye said the situation had become so serious that the fisher folks could not make ends meet and appealed to the government to be sensitive to their plight and come to their aid.
They said past governments did not pay heed to their plea as officials only visited the area and never returned therefore pleaded with the USAID and the CRC to keep to their word to get them out of their predicament.
The two chiefs said they believed strongly that the algae was being caused by industrial and human waste dumped upstream into the “Abbey Lagoon” from the Cote d’Ivoire which flows downstream to their area and called for urgent governmental intervention by the two countries to dialogue for solution.
Earlier at Abuesi in the Shama District Nana Kojo Kondua, Abuesi Chief fisherman, said following the realization that bad fishing practices contribute largely to the depletion of the fish stock the fishermen had adopted drama to educate the fisher folks on good fishing practices.
Nana Kondua, the Western Regional chairman of the Ghana National Fishermen Council (GNFC), said the drama troupe on fishing would move to the coastal areas to stage plays that depicts bad fishing practices such as the use of lighting, chemicals, unapproved nets, as well as sanitation and family planning method to reduce births.
He said these bad practices tended to draw all types of species including the fingerlings, thus depleting the stock.
Nana Kondua said fish catch for this year in the Western Region had been very low and alleged that this was as a result of fishes tasting oil spilled in the sea that killed them instantly.
Nana Kondua suggested that just as there are laws protecting forest reserves, experts in fisheries must consider advising the government to come out with a policy on fisheries where portion of the sea could be earmarked as restricted area for incubation period for the fishes suggesting April to July as the appropriate time.
He said during this period fishermen must be banned from fishing to allow reproduction and the ban be lifted in August which is the fishing season.
Mr Mark Fenn, Programme Director of the CRC, said some years ago Ghana was self sufficient in fish production but the country is now importing fish.
He said while the CRC and USAID are making research into the algae development on the sea which was likely to be a long term analysis, fishermen who are now unemployed must diversify.
Mr Fenn expressed CRC’s preparedness to support by granting soft loans for them to branch into any viable venture to make income while the analysis is made into the issue.
He said the fisheries sector played a vital role in the national economy as it contributes four percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
USAID, in partnership with CRC, has therefore stepped in to support Ghana to manage the fish stock.