Ms Ama Dokuaa Asiamah Agyei, a Deputy Minister of Information has urged the media to use their platform to “sell” the opportunities and success stories in the fishing sector to the investors community.
This she said would inure the needed investment and sustainable fishing in the country.
She said: “the quality and content of your reportage on issues that centres on Ghana’s fishing industry should be one that can pave way for either investors or other development partners”.
She said as the country had opened up its boarders to welcome the private sector for partnerships, the media remained the mirror that would reflect and inform the decisions of the investors, and therefore should be circumspect on what they report about the industry.
“What we say or write can make or unmake the fishing industry that has been a source of employment for many in Ghana.
Ms Agyei was speaking at the opening of a three-day media event outreach programme in Takoradi, aimed at highlighting the work of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) in helping to sustain Ghana’s fishery sector that was experiencing dwindling fish catches.
She said in spite of the setbacks, Ghana’s fishing sector was making massive headways but without specialised insight on how to accurately report and essentially communicate the successes, the achievement in the sector would not reach Ghanaians and the investor community.
It was through the media reportage that the problems and challenges that were affecting the development of the fishing sector could also be brought to light while through the same medium, the opportunities and success stories in the fishing sector would be sold to the world, she noted.
The USAID through the U.S. Government Feed the Future Ghana Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP) has been collaborating with the sector Ministry and the Fisheries Commission (FC) to implement a five-year SFMP project that was aimed at helping to rebuild fish stocks in Ghana and aid the food security agenda.
Over two million people in Ghana, making 10 per cent of the population, depend on the fishery sector for livelihoods, while the sector contributes 4.5 per cent to GDP and 12 per cent of the agricultural GDP.
Fish also provides 60 per cent of the animal protein in the national diet with annual per capita fish consumption in 2014 growing to 28 kilogramme, well above the world average of 18.9 kilogramme and also above the average for Africa of 10.5kg.
Ms Agyei stated that the fishing industry played a major role in sustaining the livelihoods and aid in reducing poverty in several homes and communities, which in turn, contributes significantly to the growth of the country’s economy.
She said despite all the contributions of the sector, it was still confronted with challenges like coastal mining, exploitation of immature fishing, and the use of destructive fishing techniques such as bomb fishing and fish poisoning which needed to be tackled head-on.
She said information dissemination and reportage was therefore, one key element that could be harnessed to educate the fishers to adopt positive fishing methods.
While lauding the USAID for its partnerships through the SFMP programme that continued to help in transforming and sustaining the sector, Ms Agyei noted that Ghana’s fishing industry could harness its optimal potential with the concerted efforts of all principal stakeholders such as the MoFAD and its agencies, the development partners, the fisher folks and the media to enable the sector to become one of the most developed in the Sub-region.
The Government, she noted, was against illegal fishing and had empowered the institutions to work to ensure that all illegalities going on in the sector were dealt with to help in sanitising the sector.
She said it was the desire of the government to deepen partnerships to develop the fishing sector on different level, and to export the fish and gain foreign exchange.
The Deputy Minister therefore, charged all those put in place to regulate and sanitise the sector from illegal activities to be up and doing and allow the laws to take its course by bringing perpetuators to book.
She commended media personnel for their contribution towards the development of the fishing industry, saying, “but for their proactiveness and hard work, a lot of issues that boarders Ghana’s fishing industry will be in the dark”
She expressed the hope that the media event would offer the opportunity to gain an in-depth knowledge and insight on the need to specialise in positive and accurate fisheries reportage.
Mr Maurice Knight, Chief of Party of the SFMP said within the past three and a half years of the implementation of the Project, many successes had been achieved for the fishery sector and that included an anti-child labour and trafficking strategy for the sector, a drafted national Co-management policy, as well as a more efficient management of the sector in collaborating with the NGO sectors and the fishing communities as well.