Heavy metal pollution from galamsey is threat to the ocean – Dr Kassah
Dr. Jemimah Etornam Kassah, a lecturer at the Department of Biology Education at the University of Education, has expressed worry about the quantity of heavy metal pollution from illegal mining activities being discharged into the ocean.
Dr. Kassah, who is also a Fisheries Scientist and an Aquaculture Professional, speaking at a Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) forum on “Fisheries Regulatory and Management Regime in Ghana,” said pollution was the most notorious bane to the fisheries sector. She said apart from the increasing plastic pollution in the ocean, which was destroying aquatic life and biodiversity, the menacing threat of heavy metals from unregulated mining activities was also worrying.
She said Ghana was taking for granted the increasing time bomb it was sitting on, stressing that the heavy metal pollution from the country’s rivers, which is discharged directly into the ocean, must be checked.
The Fisheries Scientist said the river waters had been laden with mercury and other dangerous compounds from the alluvial mining activities being carried out in the country.
She called for deliberate attention to be put on the menace and the climatic conditions that affected fishing activities for a sustainable sector.
Dr. Kassah described Ghana’s fisheries as undergoing surgery, and though a few interventions were put in place to bring some rest to the sector, there was still a need for more to be done.
She said the fisheries sector was bedeviled with challenges, to the extent that its small pelagic was in a state of near collapse, adding however that between the past three to four years, a lot of interventions, such as the close season and an attempt to reduce the number of vessels going into the sea, were introduced.
She added that there has been a reduction in the number of trawl vessels, while canoes were also registered and licenced.
“We have moved from that point where the fisheries were being rushed to the hospital to the hospitalisation stage, where a series of interventions are being put in place to ensure that we move away from the dire situation we found ourselves in,” she added.
Dr. Kassah observed that there were regulation gaps in the fisheries sector and needed regulations that spell out how many people would be allowed to go into aquaculture per year or, in terms of production statistics, how many volumes were allowed to be harvested per a given period.
She said the lack of adequate regulation has left the country’s water bodies with untapped potential, and the glaring gap in research was evident, stating that regulations should have sustainability strategies to protect the livelihoods of fishers in the artisanal sector, swayed by current events in the industry.
She urged the government to increase commitment to scientific research by investing in the purchase of a research vessel to guide policies in the sector.