The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MOFAD) in collaboration with the U.S. government through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has held a signing ceremony for a new Anti-Child Labour and Trafficking Strategy for the fisheries sector in Ghana.
The strategy, which had inputs from the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection and coordinated through the MOFAD Marine Fisheries Division outlines the Ministry’s plans to reduce and eventually eliminate child labour and trafficking in the fisheries sector.
According to the sector Minister, Madam Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, a national strategy has also been developed in this regard in a bid to completely eradicate child labour and trafficking issues.
The national strategy involves a plan of action against the worst forms of child labour in Ghana and recognises the need for special efforts and attention in addressing the underlying problems that make children in fishing communities the most vulnerable for exploitation.
In addition, a Child and Family Welfare strategy, a National Social Protection strategy as well as the launch of the second phase of National Action Plan against child labour 2017 to 2021, have also been developed to address the problem of child labour and trafficking.
She said Ghana has been working in response to child labour and trafficking and the urgent need to eliminate by ratifying a number of international conventions and treaties. The government of Ghana has also enacted legislation including the Children’s Act of 1998, the Human Trafficking Act of 2005 and the Domestic Violence Act of 2006.
She noted that child labour and trafficking is a major global problem that governments, civil society and development partners show great concern about because of its diverse negative impact on societies around the world.
According to the minister, the major source of trafficking is from the poor and vulnerable communities. She added that two million children are involved in child labour and 200 thousand of them face worse forms of child labour in Ghana.
Currently, fishing accounts for 1.2 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and six percent of agriculture GDP. The Minister revealed that fish provides more than 60 percent of animal protein consumed in Ghana and as many as 2.7 million Ghanaians are directly involved in fishing. This she said represents 10 percent of the workforce.
“But we have problems with Ghana’s fisheries sector. The fish that people depend on most for food is collapsing. Our fishermen are struggling to make a living. They are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet and their situation is forcing them to look for cheaper ways of fishing. One of the worst results of this increasingly dire situation is the exploitation of children”, said Madam Afoley Quaye.
She added that: “In Ghana over 50,000 children are believed to be trafficked annually and they get involved in fishing in our inland bodies particularly along the Volta lake. It must be stated that there is no child labour in aquaculture and very limited in the marine sub sector. Child labour and trafficking of children is illegal. It infringes on the rights of the child and it affects children’s physical and mental health and has significant implications on social and economic development at the individual level, household level and for Ghana as a whole.”
Present at the signing was Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Ghana, Christopher J. Lamora who noted that Ghana’s fisheries is deeply entrenched in child labour and trafficking. He said the partnership will therefore increase awareness and public education on the dangers and negative effects of child labour and trafficking.
He required continuous dedication from the ministry in the fight agaist child labour adding that the signing will increase effectiveness and a wholistic approach to eradicating child labour and trafficking on a national and international level.