Government’s medium-term vision to use the aquaculture sub-sector to increase domestic fish production and generate additional jobs and employment along the aquaculture value chain is gradually taking shape.
Through its flagship programme, Aquaculture for Food and Jobs (AFJ) Initiative, which was piloted and fully rolled out in 2020, government has been able to significantly increase our domestic fish production and as well created job opportunities along the aquaculture value chain particularly for the youth of the country.
Providing updates on the progress of the programme since it was implemented last year at the Minister’s Press Briefing organised by the Ministry of Information on Sunday September 12, 2021, Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mavis HawaKoomson said the AFJ currently covers thirteen (13) Regions namely, Ahafo, Ashanti, Bono, Bono East, Central, Eastern, Greater Accra, Oti, Upper East, Upper West, Volta, Western and Western North.
She said “so far, a total of 25 beneficiary institutions and groups comprising six (6) Senior High Schools, one (1) Training College, four (4) Prison Camps, thirteen (13) Youth Groups and one (1) Fish Farmers’ Association have been supported in various capacities under the initiative.
“About 148 aquaculture holding facilities have also been provided under the Initiative since 2020. The Ministry is partnering with the GIZ Ghana Country Office to implement AFJ in the Western Region. Their support includes production facilities (tarpaulin tanks), boreholes, fish feed, motorcycles for the extension officers of the Ministry, laptops, and water test kits,” she added.
She indicated that her Ministry is putting measures in place to extend the initiative to cover the remaining three (3) Regions and that continuously, the Ministry will provide the needed support to beneficiaries of the initiative.
Marine fish catch has experienced considerable decline over the last few years due to overfishing and overexploitation. Except for the tuna fleet which remains reportedly unaffected, the Catch per Unit of Effort (CPUE) of all fleet has experienced decline over the years. Fish landings of some key marine species like sardinellas are at their lowest levels recorded and are of much smaller sizes.
This the Minister explained that to effectively address the situation requires the adoption and implementation of sustainable fisheries management measures that will ensure the protection and conservation of the fisheries resources for the benefit of both present and future generations. She said it also requires strict enforcement of the fisheries laws and sensitization of fishing communities.
Accordingly, Mrs.Koomson said the Ministry and the Fisheries Commission in conformance with Section 84 of the Fisheries Act, 2002 (Act 625) and the National Marine Fisheries Management Plan (2015-2019) started the implementation of Closed Season for the industrial fleet in 2016 as a marine fish stock recovery strategy to complement other existing strategies for the sustainable management of our fishery resources.
The Closed Season was subsequently extended to cover all sectors of the fishing industry including the artisanal and inshore sectors. She said there was high compliance with the closure in all fishing communities, which is an indication of the general acceptance of the Closed Season and the need to manage the fishery resources sustainably to protect their livelihoods.
This the Minister assured that the measures put in place so far will help address the decline in our marine fish catch.