Fisheries and Coastal Environmental Sanitation: The Role of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs)

Ghana has a very fragile coastal ecosystem well-endowed with natural resources which are exploited by different sectors of the economy. This relatively small coast houses 25% of the nation’s population and about 80% of the industrial establishments in Ghana thereby imposing a lot of stress on the environment and associated resources. Aside the environmental challenges, Ghana’s fisheries sector is plagued with massive overcapacity of fleet, resulting in excess competition over the limited fish resources and its consequent declining productivity, economic inefficiency, low incomes, poverty and largely impoverished society. In recent times, the traditional and political fisheries management arrangements and institutional structures that have earlier synergistically managed the fisheries have also struggled to cope with challenges of the industry. In view of these environmental and fisheries management challenges, the Centre for Coastal Management of the University of Cape Coast has pooled resources, over a period of two years (2015-2016) to research into the problems with the hope of alleviating the situation. The study, dubbed Policy and Research Dialogues on the Coastal Environment, was designed to interrogate the roles, responsibilities and contributions of stakeholders (fishermen and fishmongers, fisheries officers, planning and coordinating directors, non-governmental organizations and central government and its decentralized agencies) to improve fisheries and coastal environment in the four coastal regions of Ghana. The findings of this Dialogue, among others is that the inability of the current institutions and systems to function in the face of the numerous contemporary challenges in the Ghanaian fisheries has given way to all the vices in the fisheries including; illegal fishing methods, under-cover deals in the distribution and sales of pre-mix fuel, trans-shipment (saiko fishing), overcapacity of the industry, degraded coastal sanitary conditions and a general break down of law and order in fisheries practices. The unanimous agreement by all stakeholders of the fisheries is that change is needed and the change should be driven and implemented from the bottom.

To bring about the much needed change, the Centre for Coastal Management, proposes to work with the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) to flag these issues strongly in the country’s next Medium Term Development Plans (MTDP) of the Metropolitan, Municipal & District Assemblies to provide the necessary inputs and solutions to drive government policy on local economic development through improved fisheries and sanitation practices.


The proposed fisheries and sanitation interventions to be infused into national policy for the marine fisheries of Ghana centres around the following:

  1. Fisheries management and governance

    • Roles and responsibilities of the traditional authority

    • Roles and responsibilities of the local government administration (MMDAs)

    • Proposals for local management of capacity in the fisheries

    • Proposals for management of pre-mix fuel distribution

    • Proposals for reducing illegal, unregulated and unreported fisheries

    • Proposals on law enforcement

    • Proposals for reducing and management of seasonal sea weeds invasion

  2. Sanitation of the coastal environment

  3. Alternative livelihood schemes

  4. Capacity building

  5. Research feeding into national development plans




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