Ghana, under the auspices of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, is to host the 7th Meeting of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific State Ministers in Charge of Fisheries and Aquaculture (OACPS) in Accra next year.
The 7th OACPS meeting, which is slated for April 5 to 8, 2022, would host 79 member States, represented by their policy-makers, practitioners and professionals within the fisheries and aquaculture sector to deliberate on how to protect marine life and utilise its resources for national development.
The theme for the meeting is “OACPS Blue Economy Agenda 2020: Catalysing the Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Development for the Future.”
Madam Frema Osei Opare, the Chief of Staff, who launched the meeting, said the fisheries sector contributed significantly to job creation, poverty reduction, food and nutrition and to the economy’s Gross Domestic Product.
Fish as a food, she said, contributed to 60 per cent of annual protein intake and served as a source of livelihood for three million people, working along the coast, according to a 2019 report.
Hence, she said the establishment of the OACPS was going to ensure that fishery resources were utilised and managed well to ensure sustainability and development of the sector.
Madam Opare said the selection of Ghana out of 48 African countries of OACPS that qualified to host the 7th Meeting was an opportunity that the country had to take advantage of to consolidate its role in the sector to promote socio-economic development.
Mrs Mavis Hawa Koomson, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, said the meeting to be held next year coincided with the observation of World Earth Day, which sought to gather global focus and attention to the Earth and its environment, including the ocean and inland water bodies.
“It is in the light of the foregoing that the theme for the 7th Meeting is timely. It enables us to focus our attention and energies on measures to harness the benefits of the Blue Economy. It also allows us to improve the socio-economic safety of fishing communities while addressing activities that threaten the ocean and the environment including illegal fishing and plastic pollution,” she said.
She said the aforementioned could only be achieved by the collaboration of all stakeholders in the management of the fishery and aquaculture resources.
“I wish, therefore, to call on Corporate Ghana and the resource users to support the Ministry to successfully host this important meeting. I sincerely trust that we will benefit from the shared experiences of participants in the Meeting in addressing some of the key challenges confronting the fisheries sector in Ghana,” she said.
Mr Simon Agah, the President of the National Fisheries Association of Ghana, said the meeting was going to provide an avenue for participants to follow up on policies and promote good monitoring and evaluation strategies for poverty alleviation among member states.
He said the Association pledged to support stakeholders to reverse the trend of illegal fishing by promoting sensitisation campaigns among fish farmers on the negative effects of illegal fishing on them and the nation at large.
Professor Francis E. K. Nunoo, the Department of Marine and Fisheries Sciences, University of Ghana, said the department and that of other Universities graduated about 200 students every year.
However, nations had paid too much attention to health and socioeconomic related issues to the detriment of the fishery industry and its skilful personnel.
To have a sustainable fishery industry, he said, it was necessary to well manage the human force working in it.
Prof. Nunoo gave an assurance that his department would do its part to support the fishery sector with all it could, including research.