Stakeholders in the fisheries industry have called for urgent measures to protect and secure landing sites for fisherfolks from encroachment.
They indicated that the competing interests for landing sites put the livelihoods of those in the fishery sector at risk if nothing was done to secure these sites.
At a stakeholders’ workshop on mapping and documentation of the landing sites in Cape Coast last Friday, participants called for effective stakeholder collaboration to achieve this goal urgently.
The participants included officials from the Lands Commission, Fisheries Commission, Coastal Development Authority, Environmental Protection Agency, traditional authorities, media personnel, fishermen and fishmongers.
The workshop was organized as part of the Sustainable Oceans Project (SOP), a three-year project funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), that seeks to build grassroots capacity for a sustainable ocean economy in Ghana, through inclusive, strong and effective capacity building, planning and management of coastal ecosystems.
The project, among others, also seeks to improve land tenure governance for sustainable seafood systems, by pushing for a strong national policy that would help protect the over 292 landing beaches and the livelihood of over 140,000 fishermen across the four coastal regions.
The project also aims to promote a resilient and sustainable ocean economy in Ghana, which will be achieved through inclusive, strong and effective capacity, planning and management of coastal ecosystems.
The implementing partners the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), Hen Mpoano (HM), Friends of the Nation (FoN) and Central and Western Fishmongers Improvement Association (CEWEFIA), within three years (2022- 2025), would work to reduce the decline in fish stocks, improve income of fishing communities and address the effects of climate change on fisheries in Ghana.
The Chief Fisherman for Gomoa Fetteh, Nana Obrenu Dabum, said many fishing communities were losing their landing sites to competing interests, especially the hospitality players.
He said there was a need for concerted efforts to secure the sites and the livelihoods of the fishermen.
For his part, the Chief Fisherman for Anomabo Etsiwa ,Nana Kwamena Sanka, described the project as a laudable one.
The Queen mother of Anomabo, Nana Mbroba Dabo, lauded the initiative, saying securing the landing sites meant securing the livelihoods of the thousands whose livelihoods depended on the sea.
A Coordinator of the Project, Justice Camillus Mensah, said the project would build on earlier projects to ensure the landing sites were mapped,
secured and documented. He said the project sought to secure 10 landing sites across the country for fisherfolks.
He urged all stakeholders to play their part effectively to ensure the success of the project.
Presenting an overview of the project, a Programme Officer at the EJF,Osei Akoto Nyantakyi, said the key objectives of the SOP were to, among others, reduce fishery declines, build sustainability and secure fisherfolk access to sustainable fisheries resources, through governance reforms.
This is intended to address overcapacity and illegal fishing and enhance participatory co-management.
He said it was also to improve the income resilience of fishing communities to climate and human induced threats, through enhanced opportunities for value addition alongfisheries supply chains and enterprise development.
He further indicated that the project would also strengthen climate change adaptation and mitigation capacities in coastal areas, through improved spatial and land use planning and community led management of wetland and mangrove ecosystems.
In the next three years, he said the SOP would engage small-scale fishers, clam collectors, processors and traders in the value chain across all four coastal regions of Ghana and train about 5,000 artisanal fisherfolks in fisheries management issues across four coastal regions and engage over 600 processors in value addition, hygienic handling and access to credit.
Again, Mr Nyantakyi indicated that it would ensure that women’s voices were influential in decision-making, by training and building the capacity of about 1,500 women in fisheries and empowering them to address unsustainable practices at the landing beaches.