The Executive Director of Hen Mpoano, Mr. Kofi Agbogah, says there is a steep decline of the small pelagic fish which is the mainstay of artisanal fishers and the coastal economy.
The small pelagic fishery, which significantly contributed to Ghana’s fish production, has witnessed a steady decline and has dropped to the lowest level in the past three decades.
Speaking at a media training programme, organised by Hen Mpoano for some selected media practitioners in the Western and Central Regions in Cape Coast, Mr. Agbogah said Ghana’s small pelagic fishing industry was on the brink of collapse.
He attributed the sharp decline to human activities such as overfishing, overcapacity, widespread illegal fishing, and weak enforcement of the laws on fishing.
Mr. Agbogah added that the general failure to properly manage the fisheries sector, and more recently climate related stressors, were basically part of the contributory factors.
Importance of the small pelagic fish
The small pelagic fishery provided food, nutrition, livelihood, employment, economic, and protein that is high in quality but cheap and affordable, social and national security.
In view of these, Mr. Agbogah stated that every effort must be made to recover the small pelagic eco-system, because a total collapse would spell disaster for the artisanal fishing sector.
According to him, such a disaster would have a dire consequence on other sectors and the coastal communities that depend on it for their protein needs.
For these reasons, he called for concerted efforts by all major stakeholders and key industry players to save the fishery sector from the beckoning total collapse.
The government and other development partners on the other hand, he said, were playing important roles in effort to rebuild the small pelagic fish stocks.
Their efforts, he added, were geared towards getting the fish stock to sustainable levels through various interventions and strategies including the closed season.
Importance of the closed season
Ghana’s first closed season was effected between the period of 15th May and June 15, 2019 but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the implementation was suspended in 2020.
However, the policy was implemented in 2021 and 2022 after the suspension in the previous year which closed the sea to artisanal and semi-industrial fleets.
The Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mavis Hawa Koomson, recently announced the 2023 closed season.
The exercised formed part of a suite of measures to allow the small pelagic fish to repopulate the sea by allowing them to go through their spawning cycle without interference by fishers.
Purpose of the workshop
The training was meant to strengthen constituencies to promote and implement sustainable fisheries management
Additionally, it was meant to increase journalists’ understanding of the status of Ghana’s small pelagic fisheries and enhance media advocacy on small pelagic fish stock recovery.
The training it also served as a means to boost the understanding of the selected journalists in the fisheries sector and equip them with the requisite capabilities to provide quality reportage on the fisheries sector.
The participants were expected to become media advocates and provide advocacy for the recovery of the small pelagic fish stock in Ghana.
As part of the training, some media practitioners who have been on the beat for years shared their experiences while the participants visited the Moree landing beach to interact with some of the fishers.