The Centre for Coastal Management (CCM) and the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (DFAS) of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) have successfully organized the maiden edition of the Conference on Fisheries and Coastal Environment, in collaboration with the University of Rhode Island (USA) and the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD). The event was supported with funds from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the USAID/UCC Fisheries Project and the USAID/GHANA Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP).
The three-day Conference, held from 25th to 27th September, 2017 brought together scientists from within and outside Ghana, to deliberate on the myriad issues confronting the fisheries sector and the coastal environment at large. The scientific sessions were held on the first two days. The outcome was a draft communique to be submitted to the Government of Ghana to feed into polices for a sustained management of the country’s fisheries and coastal resources.
The climax of the conference was a grand closing ceremony with a broader stakeholder attendance. In attendance were the Senior Minister, Hon. Yaw Osafo Marfo, the Vice-chancellor of UCC, Prof. Joseph Ghartey Ampiah, the paramount chief of the Elmina traditional area, Nana Kojo Konduah (VI), the USAID/GHANA Missions Director, Steven Hendricks, the Chief of Party to the SFMP and representative of the University of Rhode Island, Maurice Knight, and the Deputy Minister, MoFAD. Fishermen, fishmongers and processors from all four coastal regions of the country were well represented at the all-important event.
Notable among issues in the communique, as presented by the Director of the Centre for Coastal Management, Prof. Denis Aheto, were the need for Ghana to acquire a research vessel to enhance research and quality offshore fisheries data and issues on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. He also commented on the engagement of chiefs and other local authorities in the sustainable management of fisheries and coastal resources through a co-management approach.
In their submissions of solidarity messages, all representatives from the four coastal regions made pronouncements on the illegal fishing methods used by fishers within their respective regions and affirmed their commitment to support government in the fight against illegal activities within the fisheries sector.
In a brief remark, the USAID/GHANA Missions Director highlighted on boosting vulnerable communities, combating child labour and trafficking. He emphasized that protecting Ghana’s marine fisheries will serve a two-fold purpose to rebuild the fishing industry and prevent loss of livelihoods for coastal dwellers.
In the stead of the H.E., the President of the Republic of Ghana, the Senior Minister, Hon. Yaw Osafo Marfo delivered a distinctive keynote address to prevent, eradicate and deter illegal fishing practices, which he referred to as “galamsey of the sea”, likening it to the illegal mining menace being battled by the government at present.
In addition, the Senior Minister emphasized on the significant contribution of the fisheries industry to the economy of Ghana with 4% GDP, supply of 60% of Ghana’s protein requirement and providing livelihood for about 2 million Ghanaians.
He urged all fish workers, academicians, NGOs and stakeholders, to help combat the menace of illegal fishing rampant in our waters and admonished the fishers to comply with the fisheries laws or suffer the full punishment when they falter.
The Senior Minister further pledged the full support of his office to help rebuild the dwindling fish stocks and urged researchers and students within the sector as well as fishers, to channel their resources and efforts to finding ways to protect the sector, in order to prevent it from total collapse. His speech did not end without a plea to all chiefs in the coastal communities to help in the fight against illegal fishing practices.
The event was used to launch the Fisheries and Aquaculture Society of Ghana (FASoG). An interim governing committee and patrons for the society were out doored.
Nana Kojo Kondua (VI) closed the event, sharing with stakeholders his efforts at dealing with the menace and called on other chiefs to join in the fight.
Source: Centre for Coastal Mangement
University of Cape Coast.