The country’s fishing industry is currently on life-support, as figures by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) show that it is the only sub-sector of the agriculture sector that is currently experiencing contracting growth.
Quarter two GDP figures show that fishing sector growth has plummeted from 3.6 percent in the first quarter to -4.4 percent.
The sector has never grown above 3 percent since quarter four 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 GSS data underscores recent studies by other institutions which show that Ghana’s fishing industry is experiencing dwindling fortunes.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (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, the study adds, showed a peak in 2003 with the value at US$120million but declined sharply to US$44million in 2014.
The FAO study 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.
Again, 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.
Contribution to economy
According to the GSS 2017 Integrated Business Survey II (IBES) report conducted in 2015, the fishing industry raked in a revenue of GH?307million – representing just 5.6 percent of a total GH?5.48billion recorded by the entire agriculture sector.
The crops sub-sector, on the other hand, raked in GH?5.16billion, whereas forestry and logging recorded GH?9million.
The same report indicates that out of a total number of 54,267 persons engaged by the agriculture sector, 2,415 are engaged in fishing – representing 4.4 percent.
Data from the Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC) also estimates that the fishing industry contributes 3 percent to the country’s GDP; and about 10 percent of the population is engaged in various aspects of the fishing industry.
The country is currently experiencing a depleting fish stock, with various reasons attributed to the phenomenon.
One of the foremost challenges confronting the sector is illegal fishing, which is estimated to cost the economy about US$100million annually.
A study by the University of Cape Coast’s Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences has also indicated that climate change is partly responsible for the country’s depleting fishing stock.
Again, a challenge is the use of illegal methods for fishing – with pair-trawling, bomb-fishing, and fish-poisoning leading the charge.
Another challenge is the lack of attention given the sector compared to other sectors.