The Secretary of the National Fisheries Association of Ghana (NAFAG), Mr. Richster Nii Amarh Amarfio has indicated that despite the successes that have been chalked in the fisheries sector in Ghana, a lot more needs to be done in order to build a robust industry.
Speaking on Eye on Port on the state of Ghana’s fisheries industry, he stated that the sector can work to feed the entire population in terms of providing fish to fill in the protein needs of individuals, hence, the need for government to pay attention to the sector.
He urged the government to consider introducing new initiatives like mariculture such as shrimping in the mangroves and brackish waters to boost the employment status and relieve the sector which caters for about 10% of the employment in the country.
Mr. Amarfio said the fish value in Ghana is so low, hence, fishermen need to harvest so much in order to break even explaining that such a situation is not good for conservation.
“What we need is to concentrate on value addition and increasing shelf life and I think that is where investment should be focused,” he said.
The Secretary of the Association advised that due to modernity, the government should make use of technology within the sector and outdo the traditional ways.
“If you go around Korle-Gono, you find people drying anchovies by the roadside, but these same anchovies in some other countries are properly dried using the solar dryer system and they are properly canned and they have a longer shelf life. They have a higher value. So you need to start thinking technology”.
Mr. Amarfio emphasized that the sector needs people who will think beyond “fisherman landing fish, selling and going home” to carefully drive it to its potential capacity.
Touching on some challenges faced by the sector, Richster Nii Amarh said, “we have few fish with many canoes and vessels chasing them all over the place”. He stated that it was one of the major reasons why they have issues with illegality within the sector as there is a battle for the survival of the fittest.
He also spoke on the issues of the ecosystem being disturbed by upstream activities. He explained that waterbodies like the mangroves, brackish waters and fresh waters have direct relation with the marine environment and any damage to it worries the ecosystem upon which the fisheries sector is dependent on and the economy at large.
“Crustaceans like crabs and prawns, most of them spawn around these areas. Just like the salmon, which we do not have in our waters, spawn in fresh waters. Now we have lost all the mangroves and fresh waters and the mud around them which the crabs spawn in”.
Mr. Amarfio established that poor management of the drainage systems in the country is the major cause of the loss of most waterbodies in Ghana.
“All of our drainage systems are channelled into a lagoon, all the domestic wastes, all the oils from the factories land in these waterbodies and continue into the ocean, so you are losing the quality that you have. Fish and other marine species are also living things so whatever is a pollutant and could destroy yourlife, could destroy their life,” he said.
He stated that sand winning along the beaches leads to loss of habitual breeding grounds for most marine species especially, crabs and turtles and therefore advised that measures must be introduced to help protect and preserve the beachfront.
“Once you lose your beachfront, you cannot get it again”.
The Secretary of NAFAG also mentioned that many researches have been propounded about the marine space and its species and how to protect them but all these proposals have been left unattended to.
“There’s a lot of research that had happened both by local people and international people, the challenge is that we need to have people who will now say we agree to work with science,”he averred.
Speaking on the issues of attacks and kidnapping at seas, he stated that they keep vigilant watch as they still work on curbing the crisis and thanked the Ghana Navy for their contribution in the whole process.
“I wouldn’t say the situation is completely abated but we have some abatement. We have to thank the Ghana Navy, we had some arrangements that made them board our vessels and they warded them away a few times and I think they have gone back but we won’t take it for granted because they continue to board other vessels in other jurisdictions and areas that are not within our eaves.”