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Key recommendations in Fisheries Management Plan not implemented: Friends of the Nation

By: Maclean Kwofi
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Implementation of a national policy for the management of the marine fisheries sector has ended.

ABOUT 80 per cent of recommendations made in the Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) were not implemented before the plan reached its December 2019 deadline, the Programmes Manager of Friends of the Nation (FoN), Mr Kyei Kwadwo Yamoah, has observed.

That, he said, was due to the lack of strong commitment on the side of the government to effectively manage the country's fisheries sub-sector.

As a result, he stated that the development could negatively impact the growth of the industry.

Speaking to the GRAPHIC BUSINESS in Accra on the happenings in the fisheries industry, Mr Yamoah said sadly, only 20 per cent of the recommendations made in the FMP were implemented.

He said the 20 per cent consisted of the implementation of the fishing close season, registration of canoes and provision of identification cards for fisher folks.

"Although the plan is a good document, we are worried that most of the provisions made were not implemented," he said.

The FMP

The Fisheries Management Plan implemented between 2015 and 2019 for the management of the marine fisheries sector has ended.

The plan was designed with support from World Bank and stakeholders such as the European Union (EU) to help rebuild the country’s fish stocks.

It was expected to enhance the socio-economic conditions of fishing communities, create employment within national and international frameworks and standards and improve food security, as well as contribute to the gross domestic product (GDP) and foreign exchange earnings.

The FMP was to provide a strategic framework for reversing the declining trend of fish resources as a result of illegal fishing and establish a sound management regime to ensure that fish stocks are exploited sustainably in an enhanced environment.

However, Mr Yamoah said although the implementation of the plan ended in December 2019, stakeholders in the industry believed that a lot of the provisions that were not implemented were still valid and needed to be analysed and reframed into a new document.

Unlike the FMP, he added, there should be a strong commitment to implement the new proposed document when developed.

Govt's plan

A source at the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS on December 13 in Accra that although implementation of the plan had ended, strong measures were still in place to properly manage the country’s fisheries resources.

According to the source, the government was fully committed to implementing robust measures to ensure long-term conservation of its fish stocks.

That, the source said, was crucial to ensure that the sector contributed significantly to improve food and nutritional safety at a national level.

The source indicated that the government would continue to work with key stakeholders such as the EU to help manage the country’s fisheries stock.

Expected outcome

The Fisheries Management Plan was supposed to set out a formal harvest strategy for the fisheries sector and provide direction for the formulation of management actions within the context of the Fisheries Act, 2002 (Act 625), Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 2014 (Act 880) Fisheries Regulations, 2010 (L.I. 1968) and Fisheries (Amendment) Regulations, 2015 (L.I. 2217).

It was expected to operate for a five-year period from 2015 to 2019. There will be an annual Operational Plan developed from the Management Plan’s priorities that will designate the actions to be taken every calendar year.

The Fisheries Commission was expected to use the FMP to advise the sector minister, as well as prepare an annual report on the performance of the fisheries resources against all performance indicators in accordance with the implementation time frame specified in the plan.

Fisheries resources

The fisheries resources of Ghana have long been a pillar of the national economy, contributing significantly to her socio-economic development.

The fisheries sector generates over US$1 billion in revenue each year and accounts for at least 4.5 per cent of Ghana’s GDP.

The sector also provides livelihood for an estimated 10 per cent of the population, representing about 2.5 million people who are employed directly or indirectly, including their dependents.

Significantly, fish constitutes 60 per cent of the animal protein consumed in the country.

Available scientific evidence indicates a gradual decrease in the stocks of fish within Ghana’s fisheries waters due to increasing fishing effort.

There has also been weak enforcement and non-compliance with the current fishery management measures.

Reversing the trend of stock depletion to support the socio-economic development and food security for present and future generations of Ghanaians requires bold and immediate policy and management actions.