Kumasi, April 4, GNA - The Volta Lake will be totally depleted of fish stock if the illegal fishing gear being used on it and its over exploitation were allowed to continue.
The effect would be that communities that depended on it would be deprived of their livelihood.
Mr Daniel dugan, Deputy Minister of Fisheries, who sounded this warning, pointed out that the Volta Lake served about 1,300 communities and produced about 80,000 tons of fish yearly. However, he said, research had shown that, over exploitation and the use of illegal fishing gear on the lake had contributed to the dwindling fish stock in the lake.
The Deputy Minister said it was on this basis that the Ministry had put in place a research committee made up of renowned scientists from the country's research institutions to look at how the lake could be re-stocked with fingerlings.
Mr Dugan was speaking at the 25th anniversary celebration and agricultural exhibition of the Agricultural Colleges Students Union (ACSU) at the Kwadaso Agricultural College in Kumasi on Monday. He said the Ministry would readily move into action to restock the lake as soon as the committee presented its report.
The Deputy Minister said the Ministry has also introduced alternative livelihood training programmes for the fisher folk to lesson their over dependence on the lake and also take care of the seasonality of fishing activities in the country, especially in the coastal communities.
Mr Dugan said the country's current fish production of 400,000 tons per annum fell short of the annual requirement of over 720,000 tons.
"While our marine fishery resources continue to be on the decline, aquaculture production is put only about one per cent of the total national fish production".
He said to make up the shortfall in meeting the national fish production requirement therefore, the Ministry of Fisheries allowed the importation of fish to the tune of about 200 million dollars last year.
Mr Dugan said the Ministry believed that the proper management of fisheries as well as the development of aquaculture in the country reducing post harvest losses and adding value to fish landed could bring about sustained and increased fish production and supply as well as increased income those in the fishing industry.
"Looking at the picture by this revelation, it is important that we channel our attention towards the cultivation of fish which by our abundant natural resources have a comparative advantage". The Deputy Minister said in linking agricultural extension officers with the country's poverty reduction strategy, it was relevant that as agricultural students, they came to terms with the poverty reduction document and fashioned out the specific roles they were expected to play.
"This will inform you to prepare adequately to meet the challenges that may come your way in discharging your duties as agricultural extension officers when you complete your course". Mr Kwame Amezah, Director of Agriculture Extension Services, called on the students to empower farmers to improve upon their production at all levels.
He said the extension services, has included in its activities the fight against HIV/AIDS and environmental degradation as a way to reduce poverty and hunger.
Mr Amezah said the government provided five million dollars for general farmer based organisations and an additional 140 billion cedis to support farmers in maize, cashew, soya bean and oil palm cultivation this year.
Dr Ebenezer Barnor, Director of Human Resource Development and Management of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), who presented sports equipment for football, table tennis, volleyball and nets for goal posts worth about 25 million cedis, told the students to work hard and come out to help in the socio-economic development of the country. He said MOFA was working hard to find solutions to their concerns, which include potable water, diploma programmes and employment opportunities after graduation. 04 April 06