The Ghana Tuna Association (GTA) has called on the government to use the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to create a market for tuna in the landlocked countries.
AfCFTA, which has its headquarters in Ghana, is estimated to boost intra-African trade by over 52 per cent through the creation of a free trade single market for goods and services to reduce trade costs.
Mr Richster Nii Amarh Amarfio, Secretary of the Ghana Tuna Association, said until a big market for tuna was created within Africa, the European Union remained its single market, making it the sole determiner of trade issues within the industry.
Mr Amarfio said even though Ghana has enough tuna to feed all the needs of the country and beyond, the EU market remained the only hope for the survival of the industry.
“Europeans eat a lot of tuna both raw and canned so the majority of it goes to the EU market; that’s why they have enough control over us,” he stated.
Speaking at the Ghana News Agency News Hub Platform, Mr Amarfio said Ghana could decide to take advantage of the AfCFTA to break free from such controls by creating the needed market within the continent.
He reminded the government that the industry should not be allowed to die as doing so would affect not only those in the industry but also those downstream that depended on its activities to make a living.
He stated, for instance, that 70 per cent of the tuna caught by Association members went to the Pioneer Food Cannery (PFC) and other canned tuna factories which employ a large number of the youth.
Mr Amarfio added that creating an internal market could also come in a form of developing dishes that would make use of tuna, stressing that, “I have not seen hotels in Ghana using tuna in their dishes apart from the canned ones they use for salads.”
Ghana, he disclosed, was among the five leading producers of Tuna in the world and currently has 37 tuna vessels made up of 20 poles and line and 17 purses seine on the register of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which is responsible for the management and conservation of tuna and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas.
Mr Francis Ameyibor, Tema Regional Manager of the Ghana News Agency, on his part, said as the industrial news hub found it important to engage stakeholders on national issues to educate the public.
“As Industrial News Hub, GNA-Tema has created a platform for industrial players to use, for other stakeholders to reach out in a proactive means while serving as grounds to address national issues,” he said.
He said it was common knowledge that a lot of things happened at sea and in the fishing industry that the public needed more enlightenment on, therefore, the need to engage the GTA to throw light on its sector.
Mr Ameyibor explained that activities on the sea were one of the most dynamic but under-reported from the media, therefore, the agency has created a platform to offer stakeholders to reach out to the world.
He noted that the GNA Tema office, branded as the Industrial News Hub, seeks to enhance a better reporting on sea and fisheries issues as life on the sea affected people’s livelihoods.