Ghana made an important step to implement global guidelines on fair tenure rights, in order to improve the country’s declining fishing industry and safeguard national food security.
The meeting was organised by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), Hen Mpoano and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It brought together all levels of decision makers, from traditional authorities, to local and national government, and discussed how the voluntary guidelines could inform law making in Ghana to save the future of fishing communities.
Ghana’s fisheries are in steep decline, with landings of key species for local consumption at their lowest recorded level since 1980. Traditional fishing communities are the most damaged, with average annual income per canoe dropping by as much as 40% in the last 10 to 15 years.
The illegal and destructive practices of industrial fishing vessels, at times in areas reserved for small-scale fishers, have further obstructed small-scale fishers’ rights.
EJF’s Executive Director, Steve Trent, noted:
Trawlers illegally target small pelagic species such as sardinella, the primary catch of canoe fishers, before transferring the catches to smaller boats at sea to evade oversight of the authorities. Known locally as ‘saiko’, this activity infringes upon tenure rights and severely undermines sustainable fisheries management.
The meeting ended recognized that the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT) and the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF Guidelines) should be implemented to secure the rights of small-scale fishers and safeguard food security.
If this happens, Ghana can dealing with the complex issues of small-scale fisheries governance and tenure rights, which are being played out across the world.
EJF will work with local partner Hen Mpoano to improve the lives of fishers and promote food security across Ghana. To do that, the following are important:
- Empower local communities to take a stand against illegal fishing activities;
- Train local fisherman to understand and protect their rights in fisheries management;
- Promote the fair allocation of tenure rights to protect small-scale fisheries from the encroachment of tourism and other industrial activities;
- Identify and promote alternative livelihoods to help broaden fisher communities’ economic basis and support the long term sustainability of Ghana’s fish stocks.