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28.06.2005 General News

Fish production falls short of requirement - Asmah


Accra, June 28, GNA - Statistics show that current fish production of 400,000 tonnes per annum falls short of the country's requirement of about 720,000 tonnes, Mrs Gladys Asmah, Minister of Fisheries, said on Tuesday in Accra. "Admittedly, while our marine fishery resources continue to be on the decline, aquaculture production is put at only about one per cent of national fish production," she noted.

Mrs Asmah was speaking at a national fisheries forum aimed at soliciting views of people in the fishing industry to enable the Ministry to formulate a policy document that would rejuvenate the industry for sustainable growth and development. She said in order to make up for the fall in meeting the production requirement, the Ministry allowed the importation of fish to the tune of

about 200 million dollars in 2004. The Minister said the industry had over the years recorded a rather slow growth of three per cent per annum, attributing the pace to the failure of the industry to attract capital investments needed to stimulate growth in addition to lack of attention. Mrs Asmah said proper management of the fisheries sector as well as the development of aquaculture, reducing post-harvest losses and adding value to fish landed could bring about sustained and increased fish production, supply and income. She said in order to modernise the industry plans were far advanced to solicit assistance from the Spanish Government to establish a fishing school in the Central Region to train fishermen in modern fishing techniques.

Also a comprehensive plan had been made to improve infrastructure of the fisheries sector and modernise the industry, she said, adding that four landing sites had already been earmarked for development at James Town in Greater Accra, Mumford and Elmina in the Central Region and Axim in the Western Region. She said the industry had numerous challenges including the need for comprehensive alternative livelihood programmes for the fishing communities so that the people would have something doing during the lean season.

Mrs Asmah also mentioned the deplorable state of fishing communities, pressure on coastal fish and river fish stock due to limited access to credit facilities to finance new, better-equipped boats, nets and other fishing gear. She said the Ministry was discussing the issue on pre-mix fuel with the Ministry of Energy to find ways of restructuring and streamlining its distribution and sale with a view to making the decision to subsidise the commodity.

Mr Alfred Y. Tetebo, Director of Fisheries, said the nation had reached a point where production of fish from traditional sources had to be sustainable and managed to ensure availability for the present and future generations while fish farming was aggressively promoted. He said the Government through the Agricultural Development Bank had made available outboard motors for sale at a very reasonable price, to artesanal fishermen to help them to take optimum advantage of the herring season. Mr Tetebo said the Government had acquired a crawler dozer machine for fish farmers and the Ashanti Fish Farmers Association was managing it by hiring it out to those who needed its services.