FAO, Norway support fisheries stock survey; eight local scientists under training



A Norwegian fishing research vessel, R/V Fridtjof Nansen, is currently undertaking a fisheries resource survey in Ghana’s territorial waters in support of implementing an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management.

The survey by R/V Fridtjof Nansen, which started on May 9 in Cote d’Ivoire, arrived in Ghana’s waters on May 21 and is expected to end on June 7. It is being done in collaboration with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Speaking to the B&FT, Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Minister, Mavis Hawa Koomson, said the survey’s main objective is to assess fisheries’ stock levels of both pelagic and demersal resources as well as assess environmental conditions and levels of pollution in the country’s marine space.

‘’The beauty of R/V Fridtjof Nansen’s survey is that there are eight local scientists from Ghana and nine from Ivory Coast who joined the vessel for hands-on training in survey data collection and analysis for management of fisheries and policy decision,” the minister said.

Expected outcome

At the research period’s end, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) says it expects critical information on the biomass of small pelagic and demersal resources in the country’s waters; volume and distribution of available fisheries resources; biodiversity and condition of the fisheries environment; and levels of plastic pollution in the marine space.

Madam Koomson reiterated that the aforementioned information and data, which are expected to be made available to MoFAD by the FAO, will enable government to assess the impact of closed season measures and, if possible, design new strategies.

In addition, MoFAD indicates that policy decisions will be made based on condition of the marine environment’s current status and extent of pollution in the country’s waters.

Pervasive issues in Ghana’s marine space

It is common knowledge that the fisheries sector has been consistently confronted with challenges, especially the menace of Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices; climate change; destruction of marine habitat; and sea pollution by plastic and industrial waste.

These phenomena have resulted in overexploitation of fisheries resources, depletion of fish species, loss of habitat, loss of biodiversity, decline in the profitability for fishers – including women processors – as well as increased poverty in fishing communities.

The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) has estimated that Ghana loses more than US$200million annually to overexploitation and IUU fishing.

Indeed, MoFAD and the Fisheries Commission have undertaken several measures to curb the menace including a recent installation and implementation of a Vessel Monitoring System to monitor activities of industrial trawlers and tuna vessels at sea.

Measures taken include directives on specifications of trawl gear to reduce catching juvenile and small pelagic, among others.

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