The government is to introduce a two months closed fishing season where all fleets will be simultaneously restricted from going for fishing expeditions at sea in 2020 and 2021.
The move is an improvement of a similar exercise implemented this year and it is aimed at saving some species of fishes such as mackerel and anchovies which are going into extinction due to poor fishing practices.
The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, disclosed this during the presentation of the 2020 Budget and Economic Statement to Parliament in Accra on Wednesday.
"Speaker, scientific information indicates that marine fish stock levels in Ghana are declining in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). There is the need to take drastic measures to halt this phenomenon to prevent Ghana from becoming a net importer of fish by 2025.
"To this end, the government collaborated with industry players and implemented the One- month Closed Season as part of a long-term marine stock recovery strategy. The strategy will be expanded to cover all fleet for two months simultaneously in 2020 and 2021, " he said.
The move is a shift to adopt the initial recommendations of the Scientific and Technical Working Group (STWG) of the Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP) which was abandoned in the 2019 exercise.
The scientific group recommended that the close season should be observed by all fleets (with exception of tuna) at the same time within July, August or September to allow the fish to have the needed space to reproduce to replenish the depleting fish stock in the sea.
The recommendations are also backed by the Friends of the Nation (FoN), a fisheries firm that is in collaboration with CARE and Oxfam in Ghana are the implementers of Far Ban Bo, fisheries governance project funded by the European Union.
Declining fish stock
Mr Ofori-Atta indicated that the total aquaculture production in 2019 declined from 76,620 tonnes to 52,120 tonnes due to fish disease outbreak that devastated a large number of fish farms along the Volta Lake in March 2019.
According to him, to halt the spread of the disease and save the industry, the ministry collaborated with key agencies and banned live fish import and movement of fingerlings within the country, and intensified campaign on biosecurity measures at farm level.
He said the interventions to be implemented in 2020 were expected to increase aquaculture production from 52,120 tonnes to 69,620 tonnes by December 2020.
Also in 2020, he observed that under the Fisheries lnput Support Scheme, the ministry will partner the private sector to provide 5000 outboard motors and prescribed fishing nets to marine and inland fishers to enhance their business and livelihood.
In addition, functional co-management structures will be established in ten fishing coastal communities in collaboration with fishers, District Assemblies and other relevant agencies by December, 2020.
"Mr Speaker, to enhance and deepen marine stock recovery, Government will launch the first ever Biometric Canoe Identification Card in the sub-region in December, 2019. The exercise will enhance effective premix fuel distribution in our fishing communities."
The minister said in 2019, the government piloted the “Aquaculture for Food and Jobs” (AFJ) flagship initiative under which 321 youths were trained in modern methods of aquaculture production.
He said in 2020, the initiative will be fully rolled out in Ashanti, Bono, Bono East, Western, Volta, Oti, and Eastern Regions to create an estimated 1,200 direct jobs and 1,800 indirect jobs.
"In 2019, 1,850 small and medium scale fish farmers were provided with extension services to enhance their productive capacities in quality fingerling production, fish feed formulation, and farm management."
He said next year extension services will be extended to 2,191 small, medium and large scale aquaculture establishments.