Information on Ghana’s fisheries sector is opaque – Initiative

Captain Dr. Kamal-Deen Ali (Rtd)

The lack of public access to information in Ghana’s fisheries sector is impeding transparency and threatening the sustainable management of the fisheries resources, the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI) has said.

It said: “Ghana’s national authorities collate and produce significant information about country’s fisheries sector but majority of information is not publicly accessible.” 

FiTI said the lack of transparency could be an underlying factor of the illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing, fleet overcapacity, overfishing, ill-directed subsidies, corruption and poor fisheries management decisions among others. 

This was said during a Media Training Workshop on the Destabilizing Impact of Distant Water Fishing Vessels in the Gulf of Guinea and Mauritania. 

The workshop organized by the Centre for Maritime Law and Security (CEMLAWS) and Centre for Coastal Management (CCM), University of Cape Coast, was to equip journalists with knowledge and skills for reporting on the fishing activities to enhance locally-sustainable industrial fishing. 

It also brought to the fore some of the social, economic and environmental consequences of the impact of foreign fishing vessels in the Exclusive Economic Zones of Ghana’s fishing waters.

FiTI in its 2023 Ghana’s Summary Assessment Report on Stock Taking Online Transparency of Fisheries Management Information, probed public access to information on thematic areas like fisheries laws, regulations and official policy and fisheries tenure agreements. 

The rest were small-scale fisheries; post-harvest sector and fish trade, fisheries law enforcement, labour standards, fisheries subsidies, official development assistance, beneficial ownership, foreign fishing access agreements, state of fisheries resources and large-scale fisheries. 

Specifically, the public has no access to payments made, catches within Ghanaian waters, landings in Ghanaian ports on large-scale fisheries, Fisheries policy documents and management plans.

The report again said information on small-scale fisheries about vessels, licenses, catches and fishers could not be accessed by the public.

Sanctions for major offences, beneficial ownership registry, imports and exports had no public access.

Whilst information on legal basis for beneficial ownership had strong public access, beneficial ownership disclosure, national reports on state of marine fish populations and employment in informal and commercial fisheries had no information generated. 

Mr Sven Biermann, Executive Director, FiTI, said though the fish stock could replenish on its own, climate change, pollution, IUU and overfishing had become a danger to the marine biodiversity, threatening income levels, employment, food and nutrition for millions of people.

Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), he said: “Ghana is not data deficient, however, it should address the information gaps by providing centralized portal for fisheries information and a comprehensive report on fisheries sector management annually.”

Dr Kamal-Deen Ali, Executive Director, CEMLAWS Africa, told the GNA the media training formed part of several components of a two-year project financed by the US State Department to research on how to build a domestic industrial sector where beneficial interests or outcomes will no more benefit external people. 

Source: GNA 

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