The Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mavis Hawa Koomson, recently disclosed that Ghana earned about $254 million from export of fish and fishery products in the year 2022.
The Minister, who was speaking at the commissioning of Elmina Fishing Harbour over the weekend pointed out that if the sector was well managed, it would contribute significantly to the socio-economic development of the country.
She added that more than three million people are employed along the value chain of the fisheries sector, which contributes 1.2 percent to the GDP. She, however, noted that the sector has been saddled with challenges such as sea surface temperature and rising sea levels, which increase occurrences of sea surge due to climate change and global warming.
Based on the above statistics that have been provided by the minister, The Chronicle thinks it is high time the government focus her attention in the development of the sector, not only to create employment but also increase our tax revenues.
In 2021, for instance, Ghana is on record to have exported Non-Fillet fishes to the world, worth several millions of dollars. Some destinations Ghana exported these non-filet fishes to include Montenegro, United Arab Emirate, Belgium, Finland and Canada.
This is the more reason why Ghana needs to invest in her blue economy by way of ensuring that it is safe and saved from Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing.
IUU Fishing threatens marine ecosystems and remains one of the greatest threats to marine ecosystems due to its potent to undermine national and regional efforts to conserve and manage fish stocks.
It is believed that the contribution of the fisheries sector to the economies of countries in the West Africa sub-region is being undermined by IUU, which is depleting fish stocks and threatening livelihoods and economic security.
West Africa, including Ghana, has become notorious for IUU Fishing. For instance, a report by the Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Center (KAIPC) captures and names James Town, Apam, Elmina, Cape Coast, Axim, Jaway Wharf, Denu and Prampram as hot spots of maritime crimes on our seas.
To win the fights against IUU Fishing in particularly, it is significant to retool the Ghana Navy to effectively patrol our waters to help nip in the bud the IUU Fishing. That apart, the fishermen need to be effectively educated on the negative side of IUU Fishing for them to understand that our waters are regulated by both Yaoundé Code of Conduct and the United Nations Convention on the Law of Seas (UNCLOS).
The Yaoundé Code of Conduct adopted in 2013 concerns the prevention and repression of piracy, armed robbery against ships and illegal maritime activities in west and Central Africa.
UNCLOS adopted in 1982 also lays down a comprehensive regime of law and order in the world’s oceans and seas, establishing rules governing all uses of the oceans and their resources.
We believe if the government, through the Fishery Ministry is able to bring on board fishermen, most particularly to understand the Yaoundé Code of Conduct and UNCLOS, it would go a long way in saving her blue economy and generate revenue for the country.