The second phase of a four-year international Coastal Fisheries Governance (ICFG) Programme being implemented by the Friends of the Nation (FoN) and other non-governmental organisations in six coastal districts in the Western Region has taken off.
Mr Kwadwo Yamoah Kyei, Programme Coordinator of FoN, said at day’s capacity building workshop for journalists that the programme, dubbed; “Hen Mpoano” was being implemented in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Coastal Resources Centre among others.
He said the districts were the Shama, Ahanta West, Ellembelle and Jomoro in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis and the Nzema East Municipality.
Mr Kyei said the programme was to ensure that management of the country’s coastal and marine ecosystems were sustained to provide goods and services that would generate long-term socio-economic benefits to communities while sustaining biodiversity.
Mr Kwesi Johnson, Coordinator of Community Development at FoN, said the workshop formed part of the Improved Decentralized Fisheries Project of FoN.
He said it was under the “Mwananchi Project,” which was an international effort aimed at strengthening the engagement of citizens and was administered in Ghana by the Participatory Development Associates.
It is also being implemented in Ethiopia, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zambia.
Mr Johnson said other objectives of the project included promotion of accurate media reporting on fisheries and environmental governance through public education, discussions and cooperation among stakeholders in fisheries in the Western Region.
He said there was poverty in coastal fishing communities because of declining fish stocks due to non-enforcement of fisheries regulations and absence of transparency in the utilization of Fisheries Development Fund.
Mr Johnson said Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies played low on fisheries issues due partly to inadequate information and engagement between fishermen and government officials.
He said the project sought to address such issues and enhance communities’ participation in the formulation and implementation of policies that directly affected them.
Mr Alex Sabah, Western Regional Director of the Fisheries Commission, said the fisheries sector was a major foreign exchange earner generating about one billion dollars in revenue every year.
He said the sector contributed about 4.5 per cent of annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and indirectly supported the livelihood of about 10 per cent of the population.