The Aquaculture for Food and Jobs (AFJ) initiative of the government has significantly increased the country’s domestic fish production, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mavis Hawa Koomson, said yesterday.
According to her, the 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.
The initiative was piloted and fully rolled out in 2020. The Minister says aside from the significant increase in domestic fish production, the initiative has created job opportunities along the aquaculture value chain, particularly, for the youth.
Providing updates on the progress of the programme at a press briefing, Mrs Hawa Koomson said the AFJ currently covers 13 regions, namely Ahafo, Ashanti, Bono, Bono East, Central, Eastern, Greater Accra, Oti, Upper East, Upper West, Volta, Western and Western North.
“So far, a total of 25 beneficiary institutions and groups, comprising six Senior High Schools, one Training College, four Prison Camps, 13 Youth Groups and one 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 regions, assuring that the Ministry would 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.
The Minister explained that effectively addressing 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, acting in line 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 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.