Ghana in collaboration with some development partners have initiated plans to protect and improve the local fisheries sector – ultimately to the benefit of the economy.
The development partners including the World Bank and Iceland have a number of interventions aimed at improving aqua and marine culture in various parts of the world.
The partnership will offer support to the University of Ghana, University of Cape Coast and the Fisheries Ministries in various ways to boost Ghana’s fisheries sector.
The Minister for Planning, Professor George Gjan-Baffour has been leading efforts at securing the requisite investment partnerships on the sidelines of the ongoing IMF/World Bank meetings. He outlined to JoyBusiness, the major areas of interest in the partnership.
He said, “We had a chance to talk to the Iceland’s Minister for Fisheries. The first area of interest she mentioned was the area of Aqua culture which comprises marine culture and aqua culture. They want collaboration in these areas to enable us improve our ability to do regulated fishing in the sea among others.”
“The second area is the marine management that is – gear development and small scale-fishing that will be environmentally sustainable. The third area was capacity building which requires training and skills development,” he said.
Professor Gjan-Baffour added that preliminary activities are already underway.
He said, “There’s this mission that according to them they have initiated and as we speak they even have somebody in Accra who has started this process. They will come formally to us later.
The Minister said, “But for now, they just wanted to find out if we are interested in that relationship and I think it is a good idea. It is a very small country but they have been doing fishing for centuries and they have expertise in that area.”
The initiative could be deemed timely in turning around the declining fortunes of the country’s fishing sector.
According to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mrs. Elizabeth Naa Afoley Quaye, the country currently has a deficit of over 60 percent production – importing over 600,000 metric tonnes of fish, as it produces less than 400,000 metric tonnes.
Data by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) also show that it is the only sub-sector of the agriculture sector that is currently experiencing contracting growth.
The GDP figures for the second Quarter of 2017 show that the sector’s growth has plummeted from 3.6 percent in the first quarter to – 4.4%.
The sector has never grown above 3 percent since the fourth quarter of 2011, when it grew by 9.4 percent.
In 2014 growth contracted for the last three quarters, recording -1, -5, -1.9 respectively. It inched up to 1.4 percent in first quarter of 2015 and never moved above that till same period in 2016, when it grew by 1.7 percent and further dropped to 1.3 percent in the last quarter of that same year.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that production from marine fisheries has been declining since 1999, from almost 420,000 tonnes to 202,000 tonnes in 2014.
Total fish exports showed a peak in 2003 with the value at US$120million but declined sharply to US$44million in 2014.
The FAO also states that imports have increased substantially in most recent years, reaching US$373million in 2013. As a result, the seafood trade balance moved from a US$33million surplus in 1997 to a US$319million deficit in 2013.