The landing of small pelagic, which includes sardinella and mackerel have decreased in the country due to weak governance, overcapacity and an open-access fishery resulting in overfishing from an increasing number of boats and fishers, the stated.
The stakeholders’workshop was attended by traditional leaders, Chief Fishermen, Canoe owners, fishmongers and representatives from Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), Central Regional Development Commission (CEDECOM) and law enforcement agencies.
It formed part of series of activities under the five-year United States International Development (USAID/ Ghana Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP), aimed at contributing to the rebuild of Ghana’s marine fisheries stocks and catches through the adoption of responsible fishing practices.
Awarded last year, the project would contribute to Ghana’s fisheries development objectives and USAID’s feed the future Initiative goals of improved food security, economic growth and poverty alleviation.
The participants were taken through action options identified by the SFMP, which included the removal of subsidies on premix fuel to reduce overcapacity and “business as usual”, an option opposing new measures to restore the fishery.
Other options were closed season to allow exploited fish stock to quickly recover and the institution of a fishing holiday, limitation of number of fishing boats, territorial use rights, and daily landing quotas to ease pressure on fish stocks.
The Central Regional Director of Fisheries, Papa Yaw Atobrah underscored the important role the fishing sector played in the country’s economy and the need for the citizenry to ensure its development.
He advised stakeholders to stop the blame game over who was responsible for the deteriorating industry and rather think through the best options that could improve the fishing business for a bumper harvest.
He charged fisher folks to desist from illegal fishing practices and embrace the Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP) because, he explained, they would be at the losing side should the fishing industry collapse.
Mr. Atobrah called on stakeholders to see the sea as was a national asset which they should collectively work to protect, maintain and ensure its sustainability for posterity.
For his part, Mr. Kofi Agbogah, Director of “Hen Mpoano” one of the implementation partners, expressed worry the fishing industry in the region was fast dwindling coupled with many divisions even among fish mongers.
He warned that aside the livelihood of fisher folks which were at risk , the country’s food security of the Region and the nation at large if the situation remained unchecked and called on fishing communities to collaborate with government and other agencies to avert the situation.
Some participants during the open forum expressed concern about the dwindling fortunes of the fishing sector and called for an all-inclusive effort to help save the industry which was the source of livelihood to most of them.