Known as the “Sustainable Oceans Project” and being funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), the project is being implemented by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), Hen Mpoano, Friends of the Nation, and Central and Western Fishmongers Improvement Association (CEWEFIA).
The overall goal of the project is to build grassroots capacity for a sustainable ocean economy in Ghana through inclusive, strong and effective capacity building, planning and management of coastal ecosystems.
Speaking at the launch in Accra on Tuesday, February 7, 2023, the Project Coordinator of EJF, Mr. Theophilus Boachie-Yiadom, said one of the key objectives of the project was to reduce fishery declines, build sustainability and secure fishers access to sustainable fisheries resources through governance reforms to help address over-capacity (more fishing fleets than expected) and illegal fishing, and enhance participatory co-management.
Additionally, he noted, the project was intended to improve income resilience of fishing communities to climate and human-induced threats through enhanced opportunities for value addition along fisheries supply chains and enterprise development.
For Mr. Boachie-Yiadom, the Sustainable Oceans Project would further help to strengthen climate change adaptation and mitigation capacities in coastal areas through improved spatial and land-use planning and community-led management of wetlands and mangrove ecosystems.
That, he explained, in the next three years of the project’s life-cycle, the project would engage small-scale fishers, clam collectors, processors and traders in the value chain across all the four coastal regions in the country, namely Central, Greater Accra, Western and Volta Regions.
Under the project, he said, over 5,000 artisanal fishers would be trained in fisheries management issues and also, over 600 processors would be engaged on value addition, hygienic handling of fish products and access to credit.
In addition, Mr. Boachie-Yiadom said, the project would help to build the capacity of over 50 officials from the Navy, Marine Police, prosecutors and judges with technical input from national legal experts to support effective enforcement of fisheries laws and good governance.
He also noted that the project would build local and national constituencies to protect and rehabilitate mangroves and resilience against climate change impacts.
“The project will target land use planners at the Metropolitan, Municipals and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to incorporate mangrove protection into land-use plans; to build mangrove conservation into action plans including building the capacities of 160 traditional authorities and landowners,” he noted.
For him, it was within the goals of the project to influence national policy implementation and enforcement of fisheries laws and regulations, noting that the project will help to raise awareness on sustainable fisheries issues.
The launch brought the various interest groups in the fisheries sector together, including officials from the Fisheries Commission, Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC), Ghana Inshore Trawlers Association (GITA), Ghana National Canoe Fishermen's Council-W/R (GNCFC), Ghana's National Fish Processors & Traders Association, and government appointees from the Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies in some of the four coastal regions.
Launching the project, the Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mr Moses Anim, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Trobu Constituency, said the Ministry was working closely with all relevant stakeholders to ensure the growth of the country’s fisheries sector.
He said “We need to deal with the marine space diligently,” adding that the new management measures the Ministry had initiated had contributed to the reduction in dumping and landing of juvenile fishes by the trawl vessels.
He expressed the concern that the country had received another yellow card from the European Union due to the fact that gains made after the country’s first yellow card was not sustained.
That, Mr Anim said, the Ministry was going every mile to ensure that fishers conform to the right methods of fishing and also using the right fishing gears.
He said ending illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing practices would require the support of all stakeholders in the fisheries sector, hence calling all stakeholders to support the ministry to weed out all IUU fishing practices in the country.
The Deputy Norwegian Ambassador to Ghana, Kyrre Holm, said the launch of the project would provide valuable complementary activities to the already existing cooperation between “our countries and can advance efforts in Ghana towards participatory management of marine resources.”
For him, the goal of having a resilient and sustainable ocean economy in Ghana through inclusive, strong, and effective capacity, planning and management of coastal ecosystems was one that the government of Norway fully support.
He explained that the Norwegian funding through the NORAD “is geared toward addressing these challenges and it has become one of the priority areas of our development cooperation.”
Mr Holm said Norway as an ocean nation was interested in assisting other coastal nations such as Ghana to address some of its challenges in the marine fisheries sector.
“So as coastal countries we have a responsibility to use the ocean’s resources in a sustainable and responsible manner, so that we and coming generations can benefit from it in the years to come,” he noted.
He said the ocean economy has the potential to drive economic growth, create jobs, and promote sustainable development in Ghana.
However, he noted, to realise the benefits from the ocean, “it is necessary to build the capacity of the communities and business to participate and benefit in a sustainable manner.”
For Mr Holm, building grassroots capacity for sustainable ocean economy in Ghana is a crucial step towards ensuring that the benefits of the ocean economy are shared by all and that sustainable ocean practice are promoted.
Apathy in management
The Chairperson for the occasion, Osabarimba Kwesi Atta II, the Paramount Chief of the Oguaa Traditional Area, urged all stakeholders in the fisheries sector to contribute their quota towards protecting the country’s fisheries economy.
He said “we are not taking proper care of the sea”, a situation he observed, exists due to the apathy in the management efforts of the marines and coastal resources in the country.
He expressed the hope that the Sustainable Oceans Project will help to address some of the burdensome issues in the fisheries sector in the country, pledging his support for the project.