The Management of CERATH Development Organisation with funding from the European Union has launched the Power to the Fishers Project under the Civil Society Organisation in Research and Innovation for Sustainable Development.
The project is to enhance the socio-economic livelihoods of the fishing communities within selected districts of the Coastal Savannah Zones of Ghana.
Ms Matilda Quist, Director of Marine, Fisheries Management Division of the Fisheries Commission, who launched the Project at a workshop on behalf of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, commended the EU Mission to Ghana for their support to the fisheries sector.
The workshop is to officially outdoor the Project and enhance its awareness among strategic sector partners.
Ms Quist said the Project is a much welcome initiative that would empower the coastal youth and women, build capacity towards sustainable fishing and fish processing practices.
The Director said in collaboration with donors and partners, 250 improved fish smoking technology 'Ahotor Ovens' were distributed to fish processors.
She said this has ensured that processors produce high quality smoked fish for the domestic and international market.
"Twenty fish processors are also certified under a CLASS 1 certification scheme to enable them sell their products at premium prices and for export to the international market," she added.
Ms Quist said to enhance youth participation and job creation within the pilot phase of the Aquaculture for Food and Jobs Programme, 321 youth under the Youth in Aquaculture Module were trained in modern methods of aquaculture.
She said to realise the full potentials of the fishing sector, "we must collectively address the issues and challenges that confront the sector."
The challenges included decline of fish stocks, incidence of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities, inadequate infrastructure, particularly post-harvest and the issues of the distribution of key fishing inputs.
She said it was in recognition of the important role that fisheries play in empowering the poor and vulnerable, particularly the youth and women that "I commend CERATH Development Organisation for offering the platform to discuss, how to enhance the benefits to the sector."
Mr Paa Kofi Osei-Owusu, the Director, West Africa of CERATH Development Organisation, said Ghana's fishery sector was on the decline and there is the need for urgent collective action to address the challenges.
He said "the collective action requires that as sector partners, our interventions are collaborative and also it fills the gaps within the sector."
The Director said the Organisation was implementing the Project to add on to the plethora of initiatives aimed at enhancing the country's fishery sector.
"Our first major action in the Project is a baseline survey, which will be essential for our Project and other ongoing and future fishery Projects," he added.
Mr Dereh Adabie, the Project Manager, said the Project areas were Effutu Municipal, Awutu Senya, Ekumfi, Gomoa West and Shama Districts.
He said the expected project results include increased knowledge on best fishing and fish smoking practices in target districts, improved business of fish processor through the adoption of improved practices and efficient technologies and improved livelihood of target beneficiaries through the adoption of social protection services.
Project key activities are identification and mapping out the various stakeholders, carry out a baseline survey, adopt existing fisher group and facilitate new group formation, create awareness on proposed technologies, construction of improved Ovens, support five students in their thesis work related to fisheries and launch of an online learning venture.