WORK has begun on the construction of 20 projects aimed at expanding and improving the country's fishing industry.
The projects comprise two fishing harbours, 12 fish landing sites and six coldstores and refrigeration facilities.
They are to be located in Greater Accra, Central, Western, and Volta regions and along the Volta Lake.
President J.A. Kufuor yesterday cut the sod for work to begin on one of the fishing harbours at James Town in Accra which is expected to be completed within two years.
The sod cutting ceremony also symbolised the commencement of work on the other projects.
Each harbour and landing site will have an area for mending nets, a premix fuel depot, coldstores and refrigeration facilities, day care centres, administration block, power station, fish market and net storage sheds.
President Kufuor said Ghana's fisherfolk were adventurous and gifted with their occupation but were locked in traditional fishing practices and handicapped by antiquated canoes and netting.
Sometimes during the peak season, he said, fishermen were forced to throw back some of their catch into the sea because of lack of storage facilities.
He said it was the policy of the government to modernize the entire agricultural sector, including the fishing sub-sector.
In line with this, a National Fisheries and Acquaculture Policy Document has been developed to regulate activities in the sub-sector as part of the modernisation process.
He said the fishermen were being equipped not only to maximise their catch, but also to adopt best practices to increase their income.
In the meantime, he said, companies with expertise were arranging for funding to set up factories for the local production of fibre glass canoes and outboard motors.
He said steps were being taken to equip the Ghana Navy with more patrol boats to ensure effective patrols of the nation's waters and the protection of its fishing stocks from foreign poachers.
President Kufuor said the necessary laws to regulate the oil industry were being worked on by Parliament to forestall any anxieties and frictions which people say would erupt between the fisherfolk and the oil companies.
The Minister of Fisheries, Mrs Gladys Asmah, said the National Fisheries and Acquaclture Policy Document will serve as a Uniprint for the management of the fisheries resources and development of the industry in Ghana.
She expressed gratitude to all who have helped in diverse ways to ensure the commencement of the projects.