President John Mahama has urged the youth to venture into aquaculture, saying the fishing sub-sector holds a lot of revenue prospects for them to exploit.
He said aquaculture was critical in the government’s ongoing plan to transform the fishing industry, indicating that the economic benefits from aquaculture remained overwhelming.
Speaking at the second National Fish Festival held at Anloga in the Volta Region on Saturday, President Mahama said the government was impressed with the current production levels with aquaculture.
He said after a year of providing support to aquaculture fish farmers, production increased from 5,000 tonnes to 50,000 tonnes of fish, which had helped augment the traditional fish catch from sources where fish stock continued to dwindle.
The government he said had decided to increase support and investment in aquaculture, adding that the Microfinance and Small Loans-Centre (MASLOC) had been directed to offer soft loans to practitioners in aquaculture, “which is the cultivation of fish, shellfish and seaweed in controlled marine or freshwater environments”.
Touching on traditional fishing, he said the government would continue to introduce measures to support the industry to make it more robust.
The President said 1,600 subsidised outboard motors were recently distributed to fishermen across fishing zones, while fishmongers and traders were assisted through the provision of smoking ovens and other facilities to enhance their business.
He said more landing sites were being provided for fishing communities, and announced a World Bank support programme to build a number of landing sites in the Volta Region.
“We will complete all the new sites during our next term of office,” he said.
The festival, which was attended by fisher folks from across the country, representatives of stakeholder institutions and traditional leaders, was on the theme, “Preserving fish for our heritage”.
It was used to honour fishermen, fish mongers and traders for their excellence and their contribution to national development.
Madam Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, said the declining marine catch over the past few years together with the increase in exploitation of fish stock around the world, conveyed a strong signal about the worsening state of marine fisheries.
She said the Ministry had instituted plans aimed at increasing fish production to reduce fish import.
“In the face of dwindling catches in the fisheries sector, aquaculture provides an important alternative to marine fishing, and offers excellent economic growth opportunities, providing jobs and incomes for hundreds of households”, she said.
In order to support the aquaculture sub-sector, she announced that “the Ministry is collaborating with a company to accelerate the establishment of an additional fish feed mill at Akuse and secured a grant from the Chinese government for the supply of 10,000 metric tonnes of fish feed in line with its aquaculture price stabilisation initiative”.
She said the ministry rehabilitated three public hatcheries to increase fingerlings production, as well as constructed a modern fish laboratory at the Veterinary Services Division in seven regions to improve fish health.
The fisheries sector contributes about 1.2 per cent to national GDP and 5.4 per cent to agriculture GDP. It provides more than 60 per cent of the animal protein consumed in Ghana, and employs about 140,000 artisanal marine fishermen and 71,000 inland freshwater fishermen.
From Edmund Mingle, Anloga