Welcome news for Ghana’s fisheries

Disappointing catch at Sekondi Fishing Harbor. Photo by Christiane Badgley

The World Bank has announced a significant funding package (US$ 53.3. million) intended to support Ghana’s fisheries. Among other things, the funding will support efforts to reduce illegal fishing off the coast of Ghana and to  improve sustainable management of the country’s fisheries. This is important news for Ghana’s fishing communities.

The World Bank’s Project Appraisal Document states:

Many of Ghana‟s fish resources are heavily overexploited, and with the introduction of recovery measures could contribute far more than they currently do to the country’s economic growth, food security and poverty reduction. Similarly, together with a recovery of Ghana’s fisheries, the nascent aquaculture industry has the potential to make much greater contributions to domestic fish production. Including aquaculture, Ghana’s fisheries sector has the potential to help the country meet its strategic objectives of generating an annual sustained growth rate of six percent. However, this potential will not be realized if current trends in overexploitation and subsequent decreasing profitability in the fisheries continue.

Currently, the total fish catch from the marine fisheries has peaked and is declining, despite an expansion in the number of fishers. These fishers are experiencing a decline in their fish catch rates (fish catch per unit of fishing effort expended), a measure that is one of the more reliable proxies for the health of fish stocks and a signal of overexploitation….

As a result of the decreasing profitability of Ghana’s fisheries, the 2.2 million people reliant on the sector for their livelihoods, and the communities in which they live, are getting steadily poorer. The average income received per canoe in Ghana‟s important artisanal fishery has dropped by as much as 40 percent over the last decade. These losses often fall on the most vulnerable, as many of the coastal communities are based in rural areas that have thus far remained at the margin of the country’s economic growth.

The root cause of the declining profitability of Ghana‟s fisheries lies in the failure of the Government to control access to the resources, so that there are too many vessels competing to catch too few fish, with little incentive to invest in management and value addition. Controlling access requires effective resource management, however public sector investment to date has been negligible. Fisheries management expenditure in Ghana (0.2 percent of total income from the sector) is less than 2 percent of average expenditure in OECD countries (i.e. 17 percent of revenue).

Reading the appraisal document, I see no mention of marine pollution. Although not directly connected to the fisheries sector, marine pollution does impact fishing activity. Sewage treatment along Ghana’s coastline is woefully inadequate and algae bloom — likely resulting from untreated sewage as well as other pollutants dumped at sea — is a growing problem for Ghana’s fishing communities. And, of course, as Ghana’s oil industry grows at a rapid pace, the risk of oil spills increases. To date there is no compensation fund in place for fishing communities although the government and the oil companies recognize that the pollution caused by a large oil spill would have a devastating impact on fishing communities.

Nonetheless, this is an important funding package. Here is the press release from the World Bank:

Ghana Government acquires US$53.3 million to boost Fisheries Subsector

WASHINGTON, July 14, 2011 – The World Banks Board of Executive Directors today approved a total investment cost estimated at US$53.8 million, of which IDA will finance US$50.3 million and US$3.5 million is being financed by a grant from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF).

The project comprises the following five components:

Component 1: Good Governance and Sustainable Management of the Fisheries (US$15.2 million IDA; US$3.5 million GEF)
This component aims to build the capacity of the Government and stakeholders to develop and implement policies through a shared approach that would ensure that the fish resources are used in a manner that is environmentally sustainable, socially equitable and economically profitable. It will comprise the following four subcomponents: (i) developing the legal and operational policy to enable the implementation of the Ghana Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector Development Plan; (ii) strengthening fisheries management, including fishing rights and stakeholder-based management and ensuring necessary research activities for sustainable exploitation; (iii) aligning fishing capacity and effort to
sustainable catch levels; and (iv) social marketing, communication and transparency.

Component 2: Reduction of Illegal Fishing (US$10.9 million IDA)
The component aims to reduce the illegal fishing activities threatening the sustainable management of the country’s fish resources by strengthening fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) systems.

Component 3: Increasing the Contribution of the Fish Resources to the National Economy (US$12.1 million IDA).
The component aims to identify and implement measures to increase the benefits to Ghana from the fish resources, by increasing the share of the value-added captured in the country. It will comprise the following sub-components: (i) value chain development (fresh/frozen product/trade facilitation); and (ii) fish product trade and information systems.

Component 4: Aquaculture Development (US$8.0 million IDA).
This component aims to set the framework for increased investment in inland aquaculture. It will comprise the following sub-components (i) developing the aquaculture policy and legal framework; (ii) improving the genetic quality of Tilapia fingerlings and brood-stock; (iii) catalyzing aquaculture development for medium and large scale enterprises; (iv) marketing and technical studies; and (v) support for small-scale aquaculture development.

Component 5: Project Management, Monitoring and Evaluation and Regional Coordination (US$4.1 million IDA).
The component aims to support project implementation and regional coordination with the WARFP, ensuring that regular monitoring and evaluation is conducted, and the results are fed back into decision-making and project management.

For a more detailed description of the project, read the Project Appraisal Document.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/WorldBankGhana

Or Contact the Minister; Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Accra, Ghana

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