The zonation was also to help establish the best possible areas for aquaculture production on the lake, as well as to determine the maximum fish production from aquaculture that could be sustained without adverse environmental degradation.
A dissemination workshop has therefore been held in Accra by the Fisheries Commission in collaboration with the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development to discuss the findings on the zonation of the Volta Lake with major stakeholders managing the lake.
Officials from the Water Resources Commission, Water Research Institute (WRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Volta River Authority, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Volta Lake Transport, Ghana Maritime Authority and the Ghana Meteorological Agency, participated in the day’s workshop that was held in Accra.
The findings of the zonation, which was carried out by researchers at the CSIR-WRI revealed that cage fish culture on the Volta Lake has a potential of becoming a viable industry in Ghana, and that indications also suggested that fishing activity would spread over the lake.
The findings, therefore recommended that efforts at zoning the Lake to contain activities was critical. The Lake runs from the northern part of the country through Yeji in the Brong Ahafo Region, to the Eastern and Volta Regions respectively.
Mr Francis Kingsley Ato Cudjoe, Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, said the zonation programme fell under the West Africa Regional Fisheries Project being implemented by the Ministry and its sectorial partners to boost the fishing industry.
He said despite the huge size of the Volta Lake, not every portion of it was conducive for aquaculture, which had been a pivot of the Government’s focus of turning the fishery sector around.
He said the zonation of the Lake would therefore, drastically reduce the time and cost investors would use in determining the best places to site their fish farms, which was the main source site for aquaculture production.
“Therefore, copies of maps of best areas for aquaculture on the lake as determined by the zonation will be sent to all Government agencies regulating aquaculture on the lake as well as regional and zonal offices of the Fisheries Commission. This will help the agencies to guide potential investors on areas to site their farms.
Mr Cudjoe said the zonation would help preserve the high priority areas for aquaculture on the lake for investment so as to reduce conflicts and tensions with other users of the Lake. He said among others, the zonation would provide the necessary information for the Government to open up the high priority areas for aquaculture by providing the necessary infrastructure like electricity, road networks and portable water where applicable, to support aquaculture in those areas.
He appealed to the agencies with the mandate for aquaculture development to collaborate actively in harmonizing and even discarding some of the existing procedures and processes that delay permitting processes.
Dr Ruby Asmah, Senior Research Scientist of WRI-CSIR, lead researcher, said study on the zonation was started in 2015 and factored on the environmental, economic and socio aspects, all geared towards making the aquaculture production benefit all communities and farmers along the Lake.
She said the Lake from Akosombo, spanning through Yeji was studied to, know how the farmers were operating, how much fishes they were producing per year, how much feed were being put in the Lake, without affecting other users, and how much fish could be produced in all.
Dr Asmah said the Fisheries Commission needed to run with the findings, design and implement policies based on the findings to improve fish production and to save the country from importing more than 50 per cent of its fish stock and save some foreign exchange.