Mrs Mavis Hawa Koomson, Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture, says government will soon commission a state-of-the art national aquaculture centre and commercial farms to provide skill training in various aspects of aquaculture.
The project, expected to be commissioned in January 2023, will have units for production, farm management, fish health, feed formulation and processing for the youth to take up aquaculture as a viable enterprise.
The Minister said this at the opening session of a two-day 2022 national fish festival celebration under the theme: “Promoting sustainable fisheries and aquaculture development”, which coincided with the World Fisheries Day commemorated November 21 annually to highlight the importance of the sector to global food security.
The Festival is also to recognise the role of fishers and aquaculture operators to national development.
She said 2022 was declared by the United Nations as the International year for artisanal fisheries and aquaculture to enhance global awareness to support the contribution of small-scale artisanal fisheries and aquaculture to sustainable development.
The Minister said, “The Centre, located at Amrahia, when completed will contain indoor aquaculture structures, classrooms, and accommodation, packhouses and cold storage facilities, the wastewater from the facility will be used for the cultivation of vegetables.”
Mrs Koomson said in the face of the dwindling catches in captured fisheries, aquaculture provided an important alternative to fish production and offered economic growth opportunities, providing jobs and income for hundreds of households and with potential for foreign revenue investment, thus, government’s initiative to enhance and sustain fish production.
She said the Government had adopted measures to sustain fisheries and aquaculture resources such as the formulation of a new National Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy to replace the 2008 Policy, a new gear specifications for Industrial Trawl Vessels and implementation of all fleets closed season since 2019.
She said the new Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy provided eleven thematic areas to address emerging issues in the sector such as climate change, fish disease management, post-harvest and trade, adding that they were also expected to reduce the catch of juvenile fish and address the issue of excessive bi-catch and fish stock depletion.
The Minister said Government was aware of the importance of fishers’ access to fishing inputs such as premix fuel, outboard motors and fishing nets and that it had commenced the automation of premix fuel outlets across the country to help address the incidence of premix fuel diversion and hoarding.
“Survey on site suitability has been conducted for the 300 landing beaches and construction of three automated premix fuel outlets at Elmina for the pilot phase is almost complete,” she said.
She said fishing and processing inputs, including fishing nets, 6,000 bundles of wire mesh, 20,000 basins and 5,000 outboard motors had also been distributed to fishers and fish processors in 189 communities along the coast.
Mrs Koomson encouraged fishermen to do safe and quality fishing, avoid the use of unauthorised materials in fishing such as light fishing, inappropriate net size, and dynamite use not to deplete fish resources.
The Minister commended stakeholders in the sector and said fisheries and aquaculture played an important role in the daily lives of the people and also contributed significantly to national development in areas of job and wealth creation, GDP contribution as well as national food and nutritional security.
“The sector supports the livelihoods of over three million Ghanaians along the fisheries and aquaculture value chain, fish constitutes an important source of animal protein of Ghanaians and contributed 1.04% to GDP in 2021. Managing our fisheries resources sustainably is key to the socio-economic development of Ghana and the attainment of food self-sufficiency,” she added.
Dr Ndiaga Gueye, Country Representative of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, called for the promotion of social protection programme for fishing folks, which he said was key to achieving fishing sustainability.
He said small-scale fishing produced 40 percent of fishes eaten, adding that though small in quantity, it was big in money, hence, they deserved greater recognition.
Joseph Nii Armah Quaye, National President of the Fishermen Association of Ghana, asked the association members to support the Ministry in helping deal with illegal fishing to rebuild the stock.
The event brought together traditional leaders, fishermen, fish mongers, traders, Ghana Industrial trawlers Association members, and members of the Ghana Industrial Fisheries Association.
A side attraction for the event was a fish market where stakeholders displayed either fishing tools, modern equipment, types of fishes and fish products.