Overarching responsibility needed for Ghana’s Blue Economy Management

Pundits have called for the creation of an overarching body that wil be responsible for the management of Ghana’s Blue Economy.

This follows calls by the National Fisheries Association of Ghana (NAFAG), for the establishment of a Blue Economy Authority during their visit to the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo at the Jubilee House.

According to NAFAG the Blue Economy Authority when established, will act as the regulator of all entities carrying out economic activities in the country’s water bodies.

NAFAG said the mandate, objectives and activities of the various agencies that govern Ghana’s blue space are often unaligned, creating a difficult business environment for economic operators such as fishers.

Again, NAFAG believes with the influx of oil and gas activities among other economic undertakings in Ghana’s ocean space makes it more imperative for a governing body that takes into consideration the social, environmental and economic sustainable development of Ghana’s blue economy.

The Secretary of the National Fisheries Association of Ghana who doubles as the Executive Director of the new advocacy group, the Blue Economy and Governance Consult, Richster Nii Armah Amarfio corroborated his outfit’s petition on the Eye on Port program.

“For us in the fisheries industry, we want an atmosphere where we will be able to manage our fish resources so it can replenish itself. We want the fish we have inherited to live on for generations unborn. However, fish resources are among the most vulnerable of all the natural resources. We can cite the issue at the Gulf of Mexico where they are reeling from the challenges of the oil spillage years ago,” he expressed.

Mr. Amarfio said despite the fact that management members of the various agencies such as the Fisheries Commission, the Ghana Maritime Authority, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, the Ghana Navy among others sit on each other boards, that arrangement is yet to yield the desired results in terms of the common goal of sustainable development of Ghana’s Blue space.

“Even though the law has set up all these state institutions to play various roles, where there are supposed to be interfaces, it rather creates conflicts,” Mr. Armah noted.

According to him “a coordinating unit for all the actors and players in the ocean space, responsible for research and planning of the use of the ocean space is needed,” and the Ghana Maritime Authority alone, with its existing mandate will not be able to deliver on this responsibility.

The Vice President in Charge of Maritime at the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT Ghana), Ephraim Asare added his voice to the call.

He emphasized that Ghana’s blue economy management leaves a lot to be desired and the sector remains underdeveloped with so many areas left untapped.

He said Ghana can explore water tourism and marine spatial planning, among other ventures for the benefit of the Ghanaian people.

Like, Richster, Mr. Asare said not only will a Blue Economy Authority look into the exploitation of resources of the ocean but its sustainable use guided by credible research, adequate technical acumen and government support.

He opined that the role of Ghana’s blue economy management should not be an additional responsibility placed on the shoulders of the Ghana Maritime Authority, Ghana Shippers Authority, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority and other government agencies.

According to him, matters of the Blue Economy are paramount and the discourse to have a Blue Economy Authority is long overdue and must be treated with urgency, “Ghana will be set on the path of diminishing returns”.

He urged government to emulate the efforts of Scandinavian countries which in years past, took Blue Economy growth seriously and are consequently yielding tremendous results and benefits.

On his part, a former President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), and a Senior Fellow of the Centre for International Maritime Affairs, Ghana (CIMAG), Kwabena Ofosu-Appiah supported the idea of the setting up of an overacting authority to steer affairs in the maritime sector.

Yet, the former GIFF president was adamant that without the right governance structure, there may be little to no impact, years after its establishment.

He said a piece of legislation will not be enough to empower an authority for the desired growth in the sector.

According to him without a strong governance structure with the necessary political support, the subtle turf wars that exist in the sector will remain.

For that matter, Kwabena Ofosu-Appiah proposed the UN intervention for such situations.

“The concept of the governance structure places authority at the highest level. It has the policy steering group, followed by the trade facilitation secretariat followed by the high management and strategic group followed at the bottom by the various working groups. At the policy steering level, you have top officials like the President and the Prime Minister,” he revealed.

According to the seasoned pundit, those who have followed this model “are enjoying wonderful returns such as Rwanda, Singapore among others,” and Ghana should follow suit.


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