The EU Ambassador to Ghana, Diana Acconcia, was the guest of honour at a durbar organised by the EU-funded Far Dwuma Nkodo project during her visit to the Ada Traditional Area. Her visit coincided with the handing over of a newly constructed community centre for clam fishers and processors in the area. She also used the opportunity to inaugurate the newly formed co-management committee for sustainable management of the clam fishery of the Volta estuary under the project. During this one-day visit, the Ambassador paid a courtesy call on the Ada Traditional Council and spent time with fishers and processors to discuss the future of clam fishery. The Traditional Leader of Ada, Nene Abram Kabu Akuaku, said overharvesting and lack of sustainable management are threatening the clam fishery’s future.
The Ada clam fishery presents an interesting case for fisheries co-management in Ghana. Access to the fishery is regulated by well-developed but yet undocumented traditional norms and practices, including closed seasons and restrictions on rights of access. In recent years, tourism and residential developments have begun to encroach on traditional fishing grounds and landing sites. As such, the zoning of landing sites and estuarine users is needed to prevent conflict.
Clams are an important source of protein for communities along the lower Volta river. The industry plays an important role in alleviating poverty in these areas and provides employment to more than 2,000 people. An estimated US$3.8million worth of clam is sold annually in Ghana. The shells of clams have a number of uses, notably as source of calcium in animal feed and in the manufacture of lime and paints.
The main management measure is the closed season for clam harvesting from December to March every year, instituted by the Ada and Agave traditional authorities. In addition, every Tuesday is observed as a non-fishing day. There are no restrictions on the size and quality of clams harvested. The farming of clams in areas of the riverbed enables them to grow bigger and provides a year-round supply of clams for the market. Overharvesting and a gradual takeover of communal land by hotels and leisure facilities are competing with landing sites of clam fishers.
Ambassador Acconcia in her speech at the durbar indicated that: “Urgent action is required to save Ghana’s coastal fisheries. Their collapse would have unimaginable implications for fishing communities, with potential for widespread poverty, civil unrest between coastal communities, and threats to national and international security”.
The Director of Hen Mpoano, Kofi Agbogah, noted that: “By having an effective co-management arrangement, the clam industry can work to resolve conflicts and ensure clam fisheries are a sustainably managed to provide income. Co-management also enables fishers, processors and traders from communities around the estuary to resolve internal conflicts and unite as one voice to secure their livelihoods against external threats”.
Speaking on behalf of the Fisheries Programmes Manager for EJF in Ghana, a Programme Officer at EJF, Peter Kuusaana Canicius said: “The co-management unit for the clam fishery of the Volta river is made up of a co-management committee composed of representatives from the clam associations, and an advisory committee made up of state and non-state actors. To date, the 15-member co-management committee has been taken through several trainings on leadership, conflict resolution, resource management and team building. Further engagements and trainings have informed the development of a co-management plan that will guide sustainable exploitation of the clam resource, resolve conflicts among clam fishers and other stakeholders such as the hoteliers, and address issues concerning land tenure”.