Ghana Maritime Authority – regulator of Ghana’s maritime domain; 2022 and beyond


Ghana Maritime Authority is the regulator of the maritime industry in Ghana and plays an important role in enhancing international trade by facilitating safe transport of goods and other cargo into the country by sea. Established in 2002 through an Act of Parliament, the Ghana Maritime Authority Act, 2002 (Act 630), the Authority is mandated to ensure the seas and inland waters of Ghana are safe, clean and secure and that these marine resources contribute significantly to national economic and social development. After two decades since its establishment, the Ghana Maritime Authority has chalked up significant successes as far its mandate is concerned and has studiously worked to achieve its mission of providing reliable and efficient shipping services as well as protecting the marine environment from ship-source pollution in line with the functions enshrined in the Ghana Shipping Act 2003 (Act 645).

Over the past two decades, the GMA has been responsible for conducting surveys and inspection on boats and ships on the country’s inland waterways, facilitating the training of boat operators/mechanics, registration of ships and seafarers and issuance of certificates, including medical certificates to them, port state control of foreign ships, flag state control of Ghanaian-registered ships, and the implementation of the requirements of International Maritime Conventions, and National Rules and Regulations promulgated in accordance with provisions of the Ghana Shipping Act 2003 (Act 645).

As Ghana her celebrates 66th Independence Anniversary, the Authority takes stock of the past one year and some of the notable mile stones chalked in the period.

Maritime Security

As part of its mandate to ensure security within Ghana’s maritime jurisdiction, the Authority has enhanced existing measures designed to address illicit maritime activities and maintain security in our waters.

The Authority procured a Mersey Class Patrol (Mother ship) and a daughter craft to improve surveillance and patrol activities within Ghana’s maritime jurisdiction, particularly in the EEZ.

The ‘Mother Ship’ (Yaa Asantewaa) is designed and built to:

Stay at sea for 14 days

Accommodate 12 guards

Accommodate 10 crew

22 seating capacity

Maximum speed 35 Knots

Cruising speed 18-20 knots

Range 650 nm

Last year, night patrol of our seaports and other waters commenced with men and women from GMA, Marine Police, Navy and Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA).In the course of these patrols, the team encountered a lot of illegal light fishing activities. The Fisheries Commission has, therefore, been invited to join the patrols since they have the mandate to deal with illegal fishing.

Marine Pollution

The Authority procured three (3) Aquatic Trash Skimmers (marine debris harvesters) to help cut sea weeds such as water hyacinth in the inland waters.

The Skimmers were delivered to the VRA and are currently operated at Kpong head pond – the Lower Volta, and Ada) to clean up marine debris and harvest water hyacinth and plastics which pose a threat the operation of the hydro-electric power generators as well as canoe fishing.

The safety of fishing vessels has improved due to the Authority undertaking concentrated inspection campaign of fishing vessels to ensure that only sea worthy vessels are allowed to operate in the country’s waters.

Inland Water Ways

The Authority, recognizing that the major cause of boat accidents are tree stumps on the water channels, embarked on a campaign to the removal tens of thousands of tree stumps from the Volta Lake and Oti Rivers. This has significantly reduced boat accidents.

The other cause of boat accidents being overloading, the Authority has stationed inspection officers along landing sites and markets to check this. Officers are in place to mark all boats with load lines on the Volta Lake to check overloading. A Naval Task Force is collaborating with the Ghana Maritime Authority to monitor boat users along the Volta Lake and enforce the regulations.

This year, the efforts are being extended to the Afram Plains section of the Volta Lake. In addition to plans to set up a satellite office at the Afram Plains, the Authority also plans to remove some tree stumps there for ease and safe navigation.

The Authority is also creating satellite offices along the Volta Lake and other coastal areas. Fully furnished offices have been opened in Dambai and Axim and personnel stationed there are actively inspecting boats and sensitizing boat operators and users on basic safety tips. Construction of satellite offices in Yeji and Akosombo is currently underway for the same purpose.

The Technical Division of the Authority toured about six (6) stations along the Volta Lake namely; Kpando-Torkor, Gemini, Yeji, Kete Krachi, Dambai and Tepa Aboatoase to educate boat operators on the use of lifejackets, fight-fighting onboard and eliminating plastics along the lake.

Search and Rescue Vessel and Team on the Volta.

In our bid to ensure safety of life on the Volta Lake, the Authority has procured two state-of-the-art search and rescue vessels and will soon dispatch one to Kpando-Torkor to assist with rescue operations on the lake. The Search and Rescue vessels will be operated and maintained by the staff of the Authority.

A trained Search and Rescue Team is already on standby to be dispatched to Volta Lake. In the unlikely event of an accident, this team will be the first to reach out to accident victims to rescue them and gather firsthand information from the accident scene.

Port Reception Facilities

The Authority organized a meeting of all stakeholders involved in Ports Reception Facilities business to bring them up to speed with current trends in the industry. The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority is playing a collaborative role in this endeavour. The GMA intends to host many other workshops with the stakeholders to ensure that international standards become the benchmark in collecting and discharging waste from the various ports.

Memorandum of Understanding for the Mutual Recognition of Certificates

To ensure that Ghanaian Seafarers access job opportunities on Foreign Flagged vessels, the Authority signed MOUs with other Maritime Administrations for the mutual recognition of Certificates in accordance with Regulation I/10 of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978.

The Division took great strides in the processing and signing of Agreements with the Countries of Brunei Darussalam, United Kingdom, France, and South Africa.

The agreement with South Africa was reached on the sidelines of the World Maritime Day Parallel Events held in that country. Ghana also initiated the process of signing an MOU with Italy. This process is expected to be finalised in 2023.

Successful Repatriation of 31 Fishers from Iran

The Authority through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration ensured the successful repatriation of 31 Ghanaian fishers from Iran after it received a request from a Seafarer Recruitment and Placement Service (SRPS) provider for assistance. ZardBaleh Industrial Tuna Fishing Company (ZITCO) had refused to honor its salary obligations contained in its contracts of engagement with the Ghanaian fishers. The Authority requested and ensured the payment and subsequent repatriation of the fishers back home.

Establishment of a Tripartite Committee for fishers’ Welfare

The Authority held a meeting with stakeholders within the fishing industry which included National Union of Seamen, Ports, and Allied Workers (NUSPAW), Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and the Ghana Industrial Trawlers Association (GITA), and the Fisheries Commission, following reports of poor living and working conditions on Ghanaian registered fishing vessels. Deliberations at the meeting heralded the coming into being of a tripartite committee made up of representatives from government agencies, fishing vessels owners and fishers’ unions with the objective of improving the living and working conditions of Fishers. The recommendations of the Committee for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions on Trawl Vessels which has far reaching reforms in the fishing industry included the following:

  • An upward adjustment in the wages of the lowest ranked fisher (deckhand) from GHC700 to GHC2,594
  • Introduction of fishing vessel personnel work agreement
  • Introduction of basic safety training for fishers commencing next closed season
  • Introduction of medical fitness certificate
  • Minimum required PPE on fishing vessels
  • Food and water supplies for fishing expedition
  • Shipping Notices on approved medical doctors and list of items on medicine chest on fishing vessels
  • Introduction of living and working condition inspections by the Maritime services Division.

Phase III of the Ghana-Denmark Strategic Sector Cooperation Projects (SSC)

The Director General of the Danish Maritime Authority (DMA), Mr. Andreas Nordseth together with the Project Leader Mrs. Sif Alberte Andersen were in Accra from the 28th to the 31st of May , 2022 for the signing of the Ghana-Denmark Strategic Sector Cooperation (SSC) Agreement for the maritime sector which was to commence Phase III of the ongoing Projects.

The Signing Ceremony was held at the Ministry of Transport (MOT). The SSC Agreement was signed by the Minister for Transport of Ghana and the Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs of the Kingdom of Denmark.

To conclude, the Authority has ensured, to a high degree, safety of Ghana’s waters, making the country an attractive destination for vessels going to neighbouring countries. Many ships prefer to wait on Ghana’s waters until they are due to discharge their cargo at the ports of neighbouring countries. This is primarily because, Ghana’s waters are not only safe from robbery and other criminal attacks, but also clean. The Authority will continue to execute its mandate in pursuit of a vision to be the reference for reliable maritime services, in Africa in particular, and the world at large.

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