President Akufo-Addo says illegal methods of fishing, as well as the over-exploitation of Ghana’s marine resources cannot continue, as they threaten the very essence of the country’s existence.
According to President Akufo-Addo, over the years, and especially in recent times, nearly all of Ghana’s marine fisheries and some inland fisheries have been overfished.
This, he said, is buttressed by the last stock survey conducted in April 2016, which shows that sardines, the dominant fish stock, are disappearing from Ghanaian waters.
“Although population growth can be said to be a contributory factor, the “twin-evils” of illegal fishing and the over-exploitation of our marine resources have worsened an already dire situation. This cannot continue to happen, as it threatens the very essence of our existence,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo made this known on Thursday at the welcoming ceremony of the new Fridtjof Nansen Fisheries Research Vessel to Ghana, held at the Tema Harbour.
The Research Vessel is in Ghana to assess the marine stock levels in the country’s waters. The vessel’s programme has been unique in training scientists and equipping them with the necessary tools to assess stocks of fishes in our waters.
“We may have little or no control over climate fluctuations or changes, but one thing we can have control over is our day-to-day activities. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) methods are depleting our fish stocks. Our beautiful coastal wetlands are threatened by high volumes of plastic and metal waste that choke breeding habitats for fish,” he said.
The President continued, “This must not be allowed to continue. To this end, an Inter-Ministerial approach to curb this menace is in the pipeline. Together we can protect endangered species, achieve food security, and protect our ocean for the future.”
To this end, President Akufo-Addo indicated that his government has put in place a Fisheries Management Plan to help ensure the long term conservation of Ghana’s waters and the marine stocks therein.
The key objectives of this plan, he stated, include the reduction of excessive pressure on marine stock; effective legislation; strengthening participatory decision making; and meeting regional and international obligations.
Government, President Akufo-Addo added, “intends to acquire its own research vessel, not of the size of the Fridtjof Nansen, though, to help in the monitoring of our fish stocks.”
As co-Chair of the Advocacy Group of Eminent Persons for the UN Sustainable Development Goals, President Akufo-Addo noted that SDG no.4 requires that countries conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
Reiterating Ghana’s commitment towards the implementation of SDG 14, President Akufo-Addo noted that his government is committed to “eliminating pollution on Ghana’s coast, and significantly reducing pollution in the marine ecosystem by 2025, by tackling the current challenges posed by use of plastics and indiscriminate disposal of waste.”
Additionally, Ghana, the President added aims to complete the assessment of ecologically sensitive areas along the Ghana coast, and designate Ghana’s first marine protected area by 2025, to safeguard coastal and marine biodiversity.
“We recognise that the wealth of resources that oceans provide forms an important part of the common heritage of mankind, and we owe it to ourselves and to succeeding generations to conserve this natural heritage. Let us continue to develop our oil find and fish resources into an integrated entity where food security is guaranteed, and where business thrives,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo expressed his appreciation to the Norwegian government and to his co-Chair of the Advocacy Group of Eminent Persons for the SDGs, Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway, who was, happily, re-elected earlier this week, for this gesture.
“I wish the new Research Vessel, R/V Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, her captain and crew well, a happy stay in our country, and pray for God’s guidance in this mission, and in all of its endeavours,” the President concluded.