Ghana’s Fishing Industry on the Verge of Collapse Due to Overexploitation
The overexploitation of fish stock and unhealthy fishing practices in Ghana have put the country at risk of becoming heavily dependent on imported fish stock for consumption.
Dr. Kamal-Deen Ali, Executive Director of the Centre for Maritime Law and Security (CEMLAWS), warns that Ghana is fast approaching the point where it will be importing fish entirely to meet its protein needs.
Dr. Ali made this statement during a training session for journalists on the destabilizing effects of Distant Water Fishing Vessels (DWFV) organized by CEMLAWS and the Centre for Coastal Management (CMM) at the University of Cape Coast (UCC). He emphasized the need for increased education on the effects of Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing activities and the adoption of measures to rejuvenate and revitalize the fish stock.
Dr. Isaac Okyere, Academic Coordinator for CMM, stated that Ghana’s fish stock is depleting due to overcapitalization, overcapacity, high fishing pressure, illegal fishing, the use of small meshes, fish transhipment, and the use of noxious and explosive materials. He revealed that Ghana’s fish population is declining rapidly, with a growing number of canoes at sea.
According to Dr. Okyere, in 2014, 9,951 canoes combined both motorized and non-motorized vessels and captured 254,200 metric tonnes of fish, representing a 73.93 percent contribution to Ghana’s catch. However, in 2019, the number of canoes had grown to approximately 14,275, with a capture volume of 170,149 metric tonnes at 55.01 percent.
This indicates a significant reduction in fish stock and an excess of canoes at sea. Dr. Okyere stressed the importance of reviving the stock because the fishing sector employs roughly 10 percent of the population, with the artisanal sector employing 92 percent of that proportion. The sector accounts for between four and five percent of Ghana’s GDP.
The unsustainable fishing practices and overexploitation of Ghana’s fish stock must be addressed with urgency. For the most part, local communities and stakeholders in the fishing industry need to be educated on the effects of illegal fishing practices and the adoption of sustainable fishing practices that promote the restoration of the fish population.
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