Ghana has signed a host-country agreement with the Secretariat of the Organization of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS) to host its 7th meeting of Ministers in charge of Fisheries and Aquaculture.
Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, signed for Ghana while Ms Cristelle Pratt signed on behalf of her organisation.
The meeting, set to come off from April 5 to 8, 2022, will be attended by policy makers, practitioners, and other stakeholders within the fisheries and aquaculture sector.
The overall goal of the meeting, officially launched in Ghana on August 24, 2021, is to provide a forum for the engagement of the highest-level policy and decision makers on fisheries and aquaculture resources development to provide strategic policy direction and guidance.
It is also to improve and strengthen fisheries governance and contribute to the overall sustainable development of members of the OACPS.
Madam Botchwey said following right on the heels of COP26, the upcoming meeting on fisheries and aquaculture would continue the discussions on the UN SDG 14 – life below water at the UN Ocean Conference to be co-hosted by Kenya and Portugal, as well as the seventh ‘Our Ocean Conference’ to be hosted by Palau next year.
The visit of the OACPS Assistant Secretary and her team, she said was the first in a number of visits expected from their secretariat to assess Ghana’s preparedness towards hosting the meeting.
As part of the activities of the visit, Madam Botchwey said the team would inspect conference and hotel facilities and hold meetings with various stakeholders.
“We expect the report of this visit to highlight the strengths as well as the weaknesses in our preparations to help us put adequate measures in place towards a successful event next year,” she added.
On her part, Ms Pratt said although fisheries have high nutritional value and contributed to economic growth, harmful fishery practices that were unregulated as well as pollution and climate biodiversity and COVID-19 placed fish lives under pressure and undermined production in marine life.
She said it was a cross-cutting challenge that could not be dealt with by one country, even if the country intensified its local initiatives.
The meeting would, therefore, deepen the relationship with member states, enable them to share experiences, and promote good ocean governance, she said.
She commended Ghana for signing the agreement, saying, it was a significant milestone that would ensure that the objectives of the meeting were met.
Ms Pratt gave an assurance to work closely with the Ghanaian Ambassador to Belgium, Mrs Sena Siaw-Boateng, and other stakeholders to successfully implement the meeting.
Mrs Mavis Hawa Koomson, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, said the signing of the agreement was a confirmation of Ghana’s acceptance to host the meeting, reiterating that it was a crucial milestone that Ghana would take advantage of.
She gave an assurance that the Ministry would continue to collaborate with the OACPS Secretariat and others to ensure that Ghana made a position impact at the programme.
Ghana and many parts of the world have for years been battling unregulated, uncontrolled, and unassessed fishing activities that affect the blue economy and marine life.
Meanwhile, marine life is a source of revenue generation, health promotion, and hunger reduction.
This called for the need to organise the meeting to deliberate for strategies to control the operations of stakeholders in the fishery and aquaculture sector.