The fishing industry is bound to collapse in the next 15 years if government does not clamp down on illegal fishing activities, which are fast-depleting the country’s fishing stock, Dr. Evans Kwasi Arizi, an aquaculture scientist, has said.
The small pelagic resources, particularly sardinella, are on the verge of collapse. His research revealed that annual landings have been in decline for more than a decade.
The small pelagic fish stocks are composed of round sardinella, flat sardinella, mackerel and anchovies. These four species represent more than 80 percent of the total small pelagic fish stock in Ghana.
He said the drastic decline in landings is due primarily to overfishing and overcapacity of the fishing fleet.
“Fishing pressure is driven largely by the artisanal fleet operating under open access rules, using bigger and more efficient fishing gear and technologies,” he said.
Dr. Arizi presented his research paper to the Scientific and Technical Working Group (STWG) of the Ghana Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP) in Accra, and said even if government implements a 3-month closed-season, without proper regulation of the fishery sector it will not bring the expected results.
Though he admits that a longer period of closed-season for the fishery sector will result in higher population growth rate, effective regulation of the sector is very key to achieving a sustainable result.
According to him, a one-month closure is not enough to achieve a bumper harvest considering that fact that illegal activities are still ongoing.
The Chairman of STWG, Prof. Kobina Yankson, said the closure season must be observed by all fleets at the same time, and not one fleet banned from fishing while others continue to fish.
The SFMP, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development, aims to provide science-based management advice to ensure long-term sustainability of fish stocks, based on the best available scientific information.
The fishing sector plays a key role in development of the country, as it helps to improve food and nutrition security as well as provide incomes for fishing communities.
The sector is a major contributor to the national GDP. It is estimated that 10 percent of Ghana’s population are engaged by the fisheries and aquaculture value chain.
Fish, which is highly consumed in Ghana, has per capita consumption ranging between 0-25 kg.