Takoradi, April 29, GNA - A five-year food security project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was on Tuesday launched for Ghana at a ceremony in Takoradi.
The 24 million dollar Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP) seeks to rebuild targeted marines fisheries stocks and support livelihood of about 100,000 fishers through the adoption of sustainable practices and exploitation levels.
The SFMP is a follow-up to a previous fisheries programmes; the integrated coastal and fisheries governance initiative, which was implemented in the Western Region, however, this is national in scope.
Madam Sherry Ayittey, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, said the fisheries sector that generated a yearly revenue of over one billion US dollars and contributed to about 4.5 percent of Ghana's Gross Domestic Product was dwindling.
The Minister said the sector also provided livelihood for about 2.4 million people or 10 per cent of the population and accounted for 10 per cent of the animal protein consumed in Ghana.
However, she noted with regret that; 'scientific evidence has repeatedly pointed to the fact that Ghana's fisheries are in crisis'.
She said the declining volume of fish landed, coupled with increasing demand for fish for the increasing population growth, had compelled Ghana to become a net importer of more than 50 per cent of fish consumed.
To address this challenge, the Minister said: 'This collaboration and support from the Government and people of the United States through USAID and the Coastal Resources Centre, University of Rhode Island, has come at an opportune time towards ensuring the sustainability of our fisheries resources'.
Madam Ayittey gave the assurance that together with stakeholders and partners efforts were being made to address bottlenecks hindering productivity and sustainability in the fisheries sector.
She stressed on the need to review and reform the legal regulatory frameworks related to sustainable fisheries management as well as the establishment and operationalization of the fisheries enforcement unit.
The Minister warned that illegalities at sea was also being addressed as those who flouted the regulation were made to face the law and suggested that a one million dollar fine be imposed on an offender.
Mr Andrew Karas, the USAID/Ghana Mission Director, said the small pelagic fisheries could recover quickly within a few years when the right management measures were put in place.
He said indications showed that fish stock annual yield had reduced from approximately 130,000 metric tonnes to 30,000 metric tonnes presently.
He attributed the decline to over fishing, weak regulation enforcement, lack of stakeholder engagement, a counter-productive fuel subsidy and widespread illegal unregulated fishing.
Mr Karas called for urgent measures to be taken to address the shortfall and urged all stakeholders and partners to work hard to achieve this goal of rebuilding marine fish stock to bring the needed change to Ghana's coast.