The Densu oyster harvest season was yesterday officially opened by the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Ms Elizabeth Naa Afoley Quaye at Tsokomey landing site in the Ga South Municipality in Accra.
The initiative forms part of the Densu Delta Oyster Fishery Community Co- Management Plan, aimed at sustaining oyster harvesting, improving food security and providing livelihood for women oyster harvesters and other communities who depend on the estuary.
The opening which is the second annual season was attended by traditional authorities, officials of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Fisheries Commission, fish processors and members from the assembly and a section of the public.
To observe the season oyster harvesters ceased activities on the site for five months spanning from November 2018 to April 2019, to allow the regeneration of sea food.
This year’s symbolic ceremony was on the theme; “Co-Management – Paving the Way for Effective Natural Resource Sustainability.”
In an address, Ms Afoley Quaye described the closed season as a positive example for the ministry and the commission, saying, “the ministry and the commission can draw lessons from the initiative in our bid to pilot co-management activities in the marine and inland fisheries in the country.”
In line with this, the Minister disclosed that her outfit had developed a draft co-management policy to formalise the approach to ensure productivity in the sector to meet the needs of future generations.
The policy, she noted would be presented to Parliament by the end of the month for consideration.
The Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Minister said the ministry, for the first time declared closed season in the marine sector from May 15 to June 15 of this year to reduce excessive pressure on stocks and allow gravid (pregnant) females to spawn and protect the marine habitat and biodiversity.
She said closure of the sector was essentially demand driven from fishers, stressing that stakeholders were consulted in the process.
Commending development partners and stakeholders, the Minister urged all and sundry to cooperate with the ministry to rebuild marine fish stocks and improve livelihood of fisher folks.
She called on the assembly to relocate the dumping site in the area as it was too close to the water body.
Mr James Lykos, the acting Director, Economic Growth office at USAID, said fisheries played a crucial role in supporting livelihoods, providing employment and driving social and economic development.
He noted that to address the challenges in the sector, the agency had partnered with the ministry to develop the co-management policy, which he said would significantly help fishing communities to sustainably manage their resources, saying “we look forward to its passage.”
Mr Lykos commended stakeholders in the sector for their dedication to improve health of the fishing industry, saying “the successful closed season proves that when the responsibility for decision-making is shared between government, citizens, and other stakeholders, resource management is more effective and sustainable.
Members from the Development Action Association (DAA) and the Ga South Municipal Assembly took turns to commend the fisher folks for their efforts in ensuring the sustainability of the sector.
BY ALLIA NOSHIE