Women in fisheries & aquaculture: Rising above the challenges to provide safe fish for a healthy society


The role of women in the Fisheries and Aquaculture sector is vital in providing household nutrition and food security. In terms of livelihoods or labour force, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nation’s State of the Worlds Fisheries and Aquaculture Report of 2022 estimated that women accounted for 28 percent of the workforce in Aquaculture, 18 percent in Fisheries and 50 percent across the pre- and post-harvest components of the value chain globally. This makes women more or less the engine driving the small-scale fisheries sector, and an important pillar of rural economies.

In Ghana, it is estimated that the participation-rate of women in the fisheries sector is about 40 percent; with a majority in the post-harvest sector. Women also play vital roles in financing fishing operations, especially in the marine sector – partly due to lack of access to financial support from other channels such as bank loans.

According to the FAO report, although women play vital roles in the Fisheries and Aquaculture sector, they constitute a disproportionately large percentage of the people engaged in the informal, lowest paid, least stable and least skilled segments of the workforce. From the myriad of problems they face globally – from lack of capital, exclusion in decision-making, gender-sensitive technologies among others – it is comforting to note that the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development and Fisheries Commission have embarked on a number of interventions addressing some of these challenges, with the view of giing the women a voice in the Fisheries and Aquaculture sector to continue sustaining the livelihoods of households.

Through the Fisheries Commission intervention, women now have access to technology and innovation that has given them a strong basis – impacting positively on society and the nation as a whole. Women can now process their fish in safe and hygienic conditions by using improved ovens such as the FAO-Thiaroye Processing Technique (FTT) and the Ahortor Ovens. These smoking-ovens are gender-sensitive, energy-efficient, and less destructive to the environment and processor. They produce safe products with reduced levels of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) – contaminants found to be hazardous to public health.

The Ministry and Fisheries Commission in partnership with Ghana Standards Authority and Food and Drugs Authority, with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), launched the Safe Fish Certification and Licencing Scheme (SFCLS) on 31st January, 2023. This scheme, audits catching, landing, transporting, processing, packaging, storage and marketing of fish along the fish value chain, and guarantees consumption of safe and healthy fish. These innovative interventions/technologies have improved the livelihoods of women in fisheries by reducing health risks, increasing productivity, and enhancing market value for sustainable fisheries. These have also given them a common voice to actively participate in Policy and Management decisions which directly and indirectly affect them and their business.

Women have contributed enormously toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2 & 14 (No poverty, Zero Hunger and life below water) through their active role in ensuring National food security, household nutrition through farming of fin-fish and shellfish (clams), supporting and financing their husband’s fishing operations; and embracing climate-smart technologies for processing, value addition and marketing of fish.

On this Day as we celebrate International Women Day, the Ministry and Fisheries Commission congratulates our industrious women in Fisheries and Aquaculture who are taking giant strides to embrace modern technology and innovation in their operations and businesses to meet international food safety standards. We appreciate the enormous contributions to National food and nutrition security, and encourage women to continue dreaming big in their fields of endeavour.

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