Accra, GHANA- On March 30, 2021, U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Christopher J. Lamora joined officials of the Government of Ghana, academia, civil society, and the private sector in a virtual learning event marking the conclusion of the Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP), a seven-year, $24 million program funded through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The Honorable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Hawa Koomson, and the Ghana Fisheries Commission Executive Director, Michael Arthur Dadzie, were among those in attendance.
In his remarks, Deputy Chief of Mission Lamora commended the SFMP’s work to strengthen fisheries sector management, noting that “We should all celebrate our collective achievements while recognizing that more work is needed to rescue Ghana’s small pelagic fisheries, which are in a dire state.” He also reiterated the willingness of the United States government to work with stakeholders to rebuild fish stocks that have been increasingly at risk due to illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and to help ensure a locally sourced, nutritious, and sustainable supply of protein. Speaking at the event, Honorable Minister Koomsoon added “together we can change the narrative and support actions for sustainable management of Ghana’s fisheries to ensure food security and the livelihoods of fishers.”
Through the SFMP, the University of Rhode Island partnered with the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development and the Fisheries Commission to strengthen data-driven decision-making, improve the fisheries sector regulatory framework, adopt responsible fishing practices to facilitate rebuilding Ghana’s marine fish stocks, and ensure viable livelihoods for fisherfolk. The project also facilitated Ghana’s first-ever one-month closed season for the small-scale marine canoe sector in 2019 to help rebuild depleted species and launched a Canoe Identification Card system to better regulate the number of canoes active in the sector.
The SFMP complemented Ghana’s ongoing efforts to address the immediate effects of COVID-19 by disseminating information to fishing communities on health and safety protocols, including via a widely viewed video produced by popular Ghanaian musician Kofi Kinaata, and piloted an economic safety net program with approximately 2,000 vulnerable households.
Sustainable Fisheries Management Project Lessons Learned Event
As Prepared Remarks for U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission to Ghana Christopher J. Lamora
March 30, 2021 | 1:00pm
Honorable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Hawa Koomson,
Executive Director, Ghana Fisheries Commission, Michael Arthur Dadzie,
Officials of MoFAD and the Fisheries Commission,
Officials of the University of Rhode Island and University of Cape Coast,
Members of academia, civil society, and the Fishers Associations,
Staff and implementing partners of the Sustainable Fisheries Management Project,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
All protocols observed.
Good Afternoon. I’m pleased to attend today’s Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP) lessons learned event. Over the course of seven years, the U.S. government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), funded this $24 million program implemented by the University of Rhode Island.
Today is an opportunity to reflect upon the activity’s successes and continued challenges in the service and health of the coastal fisheries sector. By working together, the government, international partners, industry, academia, and civil society have made progress. We launched a National Anti-Child Labor and Trafficking Strategy for the fisheries sector to combat this horrible practice. We created a Canoe Identification Card Program to help align the sector’s biological capacity with the level of effort necessary to sustain it. We’ve introduced reforms to devolve fisheries management responsibilities to local communities and governments through the new National Co-Management Policy for the Fisheries Sector. And last, but most certainly not least, we’re helping to prevent the spread of the coronavirus among Ghana’s artisanal marine fishers by promoting safer behavior and administering economic assistance and livelihoods programs to vulnerable fishing households.
We should all celebrate our collective achievements, while recognizing that more work is needed to rescue Ghana’s small pelagic fisheries, which are in a dire state.
An unfortunate reality is that despite our best efforts over the past seven years, Ghana’s coastal fisheries sector is still in decline. Our research shows that the sardinella population has collapsed, and that the mackerel and anchovy populations are near collapse. There are simply too many fishers and small vessels in the sector, too many industrial trawlers including many that hail from far beyond Ghana’s waters, and too few opportunities to move people away from fishing as a livelihood. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing is rampant, and regulations must be more strictly enforced. All of this has created a situation where the livelihoods of 10 percent of Ghana’s population are in jeopardy and the protein intake of Ghana’s population may fall as a result.
It will require continued commitment and mutual accountability from all partners – the Government of Ghana, international partners, fisherfolk, and local communities – to restore the health of the sector. We must go far beyond this project’s milestones to reestablish Ghana’s marine fisheries, even when the challenges require decisions that are not popular. Cooperation among the Government of Ghana, international partners, civil society, academia, and the fisheries associations is needed to set Ghana’s fisheries on a more sustainable path, in alignment with the vision of Ghana’s National Fisheries Management Plan.
Our new USAID Country Development Cooperation Strategy is focused on catalyzing behavior changes to achieve a common goal. Drawing on the lessons learned from our seven years of work in the coastal fisheries sector through SFMP and other activities, we are calling on all stakeholders to work together to:
- Accelerate the shift from a top-down management approach to a cooperative one, based on real partnership under the new National Co-management Policy involving the regulator, the community, and industry;
- Ensure that management decisions are informed by science and data to protect the vital contributions of coastal and marine ecosystems to provide nutrition and livelihoods;
- Better align the need to protect the livelihoods of Ghana’s artisanal fisherfolk with the biological health of the fish species that make these economic opportunities possible; and
- Take bold steps to hold accountable those actors who violate the laws and regulations that are designed to protect Ghana marine fisheries from collapse and safeguard the interests of the Ghanaian people.
We stand ready to work together with the Government of Ghana to achieve these goals. I’d like to express my appreciation to the University of Rhode Island and the partners of the Sustainable Fisheries Management Project for your efforts over the past seven years. We look forward to continuing to build on these achievements to address the growing urgency of the challenges that face Ghana’s fisherfolk.
About Feed the Future
Feed the Future is the U.S. Government’s initiative to end global hunger. Led by USAID and driven by collaborative partnership across public and private sectors, including 11 U.S. Government agencies, Feed the Future addresses the root causes of poverty and hunger. This is done by boosting inclusive agriculture-led economic growth, resilience and nutrition in countries with great need and opportunity for improvement.
USAID is the lead U.S. government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. USAID’s activities and strategic partnerships support Ghana’s journey to self-reliance and advances an integrated approach to development. It promotes accountability, sustainable systems, and inclusive development.