March 2004



Ghana has a large number of fish landing sites exist, both along the coast and on Lake Volta, serving industrial, inshore and artisanal vessels. A typical industrial vessel landing site is equipped with a landing berth, net mending sheds, fish discharge sheds, fish market, offices and a boatyard. Tema Fishing Harbour is the main landing site for industrial vessels, though Takoradi harbour also has berthing facilities for industrial vessels. Together, the industrial vessel landing sites reported 86 454 tonne, or just over one quarter of total marine fish output in 2002.

Inshore landing sites would typically include some of the following: berthing bay, boatyard, boat repair facilities, net mending shed, workshop for repair and maintenance of outboard motors and marine engines, net drying area and fish market. The most important landing sites for inshore vessels are Tema Fishing Harbour, Takoradi fish landing facilities, the old Sekondi Fishing Harbour, and the Albert Bosomtwe Fishing Harbour. Together, the inshore landing sites reported 7 785 tonne, equivalent to about 3% of marine fish output, in 2002.

Typically, artisanal landing sites are characterized by a dearth of the facilities available at the industrial and inshore vessel landing sites. Important artisanal landing sites are Teshie, Jamestown, Chorkor, Shama, Axim, Elmina, Winneba, Mumford, Akplabonya, Adina, Atiteti, Abutiakope and Moree. Together, the artisanal landing sites are estimated to have accounted for 20 0769 tonne of fish, equivalent to 69% of total marine fish output in 2002.

There are about 310 landing beaches along the very long stretch of Lake Volta. Of these, Yeji is the most important. Others include Kwamekrom, Tapa Abotoase, Kpando Torkor, Dzemeni, Torkurroano, Dambai Brumben, Ekye Amenfrom, Nyuinyui Nos. 1 & 2, Akateng and Akokoma Sisi. Together, these landing sites accounted for landings of 75 000 tonne of fish in 2002. In addition, rivers, dams and ponds are also significant sources of fish, estimated to have been about 13 000 tonne in 2002. The 1998 Volta Lake frame survey suggest that there were 24 035 boats of all types, equipped with 973 outboard motors and no inboard engines.

Total inland fish production for 2002 was about 88 000 tonne, implying that Lake Volta contributed 85% of total inland fish production that year.


2.1  Management objectives

The Department of Fisheries operates within the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, with the following sector objectives:

  • Increasing domestic food supply, particularly protein sources, through more effective use of available fisheries resource at the regional and local levels as a means of satisfying national protein needs.
  • Creating employment opportunities, particularly for the rural population, to address the problem of urban drift.
  • Improving the living and working conditions of fisher folk.
  • Contributing towards Gross Domestic Product.
  • Contributing towards foreign exchange earnings under the Non-Traditional Export Programme.
  • Assisting in the alleviation of rural poverty.

2.2  Fishery sector management systems

In Ghana, there are separate management systems, for Marine fisheries and for Lake Volta fisheries. Together, the two management plans attempt to respond to ecological, socio-economic and institutional issues related to the development of the national fishery. To conform to the global policy environment, the national fisheries management plans draw heavily on the:

  • Code of conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF) policy matrix;
  • integrated development strategy models; and
  • coastal area management models.

A number of cross-cutting concepts run through the two management plans.

  • Process, concerned mainly with adaptive management in response to fluctuations in the fishery (bio-physical stocks) allowing for adjustment in fishing pressure in the short term while ensuring fishery system sustainability in the long term.
  • A precautionary approach entailing a combination of multi-disciplinary strategies and effective monitoring systems to respond to the multifaceted concerns related to abundance fluctuation in fish stocks; different interest groups; and trends and variation in gear and technology use.
  • Partnerships in pursuit of co-management to increase local involvement in resource use decision-making so as to engender ownership among stakeholders and commitment in implementing regulatory mechanisms.
  • Proprietorship, which proposes the appropriation of territorial fishing property rights to communities or zones (groups of communities), in contrast to the current open access system, which has presented difficulties in terms of control, and has resulted in overexploitation.
  • A policy of effective monitoring control and surveillance (MCS) that relies heavily on the collection and analysis of accurate and relevant data and information.
  • Integration and resolution of conflicts arising directly from competing demands for use of the aquatic resource base, or indirectly from externalities generated by non-fishing activities.
  • Promotion of public awareness of resource conservation and management needs, taking advantage of economic, social and cultural values associated with different resources.
  • Legislation related to gear type, mesh size, licensing, levies, gear type and close seasons to regulate effort and sustain stocks.
  • Economic policy related to energy, credit and promotion of measures that ensure efficient exploitation of the fishery resource to meet the nutritional needs of the people and for export.
  • Institutional capacity strengthening.

2.3  Marine fisheries management systems

In the marine fisheries sector, there are separate management subsystems for small pelagics, large pelagics, demersals, shrimp and lobsters. The main elements of the management regime are:

  • limiting industrial vessel fishing effort (especially trawlers and shrimpers) by limiting entry into the fishery through a licensing regime; and
  • prescribing the mesh sizes to be used in any particular fishery in order to limit the exploitation of juvenile or immature fishes (including shellfish and molluscs).

For the small pelagic fishery, management rules and regulations have been formulated with the intention of protecting juveniles of sardinella. These regulations are primarily intended to work through input limitation, such as mesh size limits. There is also an attempt, to the extent feasible, to identify and take actions with the support of interested parties to forecast and reduce the often high variability in the recruitment, abundance and availability of small pelagic fish resources.  

An important component of the large pelagic management regime is to ensure compliance by all Ghana-based vessels with the standard regulations issued by ICCAT. Of particular concern is the enforcement of regulations that ensure the escape and survival of juveniles from nets and the combined use of purse seiners and Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs).

The demersal fisheries management plan confronts major culprits for stock depletion: shrimpers and trawlers. The aim is to allow stocks to recover to a sustainable level, where they could be harvested in perpetuity. In the short term, issuing permits for the importation and replacement of trawlers and shrimpers is to be discontinued.  A closed season is to be imposed on the shrimp and trawl fisheries for 3 years, after which trawling and shrimping will be banned for 5–10 years if the 3-year close season regime does not result in the expected recovery of stocks.

No trawling activity (by inshore vessels or industrial vessel) would be permitted within the Inshore Exclusion Zone (IEZ), and the IEZ is to be amended, from the 30-m depth line to 12 nautical miles.  Beach seining will be prohibited and existing mesh size regulations will be vigorously enforced.

There are a few traditional management systems, which tend to regulate access to marine fisheries in Ghana and thereby conserve the fish stocks.  These include:

  • In every fishing village there a non-fishing day is observed each week (mainly on Tuesday, but sometimes on Wednesday or Sunday), which fishers use to maintain gear and equipment, rest and for social activities.
  • In some communities, there is a total ban on fishing activities for various periods (up to two weeks) prior to and during annual festivals.
  • In other areas, there is a ban on a particular fishery for a period, e.g. in the Greater Accra Region there is ban on Dentex spp. for a period before the Homowo festival of the Ga people of Accra.

2.4  Volta Lake fisheries management system

The lake fisheries management strategy is built around six strategic goals, with a set of actions outlined to achieve each strategic goal.

The first strategic goal for the management of lake fisheries is the regulation of fishing mortality within the framework of an adaptive management approach.  The principal actions to accomplish the first strategic goal include:

  • declaring Specially Protected Areas (SPA) as breeding and nursery areas;
  • enforcing fishery regulations on the use of active gear, the exploitation of gravid fish and under-meshed nets;
  • introducing of a licensing system and entry requirement that will reduce the current fleet by 30%;
  • increasing the minimum mesh size to 7.62 cm for all nets; and
  • discouraging subsidies on premix fuel as a way of discouraging the use of the winch (encircling) nets.

The second strategic goal is concerned with harmonization and strengthening of the institutional environment for fisheries management, development and research on Lake Volta. A key action in connection with the second goal is the proposed establishment of a coordinating body for fisheries management, development and research.

Following on from the second strategic goal, the third goal concerns the establishment of co-management institutions that can sustainably manage territorial use rights regimes using local community structures and mechanisms.  Actions proposed include the provision of a legal framework for Community-Based Lake Management Committees (CBLMCs); empowering them to undertake registration and licensing of fishing vessels; and integrating them into the fisheries management system.

The fourth strategic goal is concerned with improving the socio-economic conditions of lakeside communities.  Significant measures aim to influence population patterns as well as to preserve and  improve infrastructure, with promotion of alternative livelihoods supported by an effective credit system.

The fifth strategic goal addresses the ecological environment that can sustain existing alternative livelihoods such as farming and livestock rearing.  In this respect, the fifth goal aims at introducing agroforestry practices to increase supply of wood and enhance agricultural productivity, coupled with introduction of ecologically efficient and environmentally sound production and land use systems and practices. 

The sixth strategic goal concerns the effective implementation of a policy matrix that reflects the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, coastal area management models and integrated development strategy models.  Fundamental concerns to be integrated into the national policy matrix include:

  • a multi-disciplinary monitoring capacity integrating both scientific and non-scientific information;
  • partnership with local stakeholder groups in managements decisions;
  • allocation of access and fishing rights at the local community level; and
  • effective application of integrated development and coastal area management models at the local level in order to accommodate complex and possibly conflicting interactions between fishing and non-fishing activities.

3.  Fishery Sector Institutions

The Fishery Sector involves a variety of government and non-governmental institutions (NGOs).

3.1  Fisheries Commission

Established under the Fisheries Commission Act 457 of 1993, and operating under the Fisheries Law PNDC Law 256 of 1991, the Fisheries Commission has the mandate of regulating and managing fishery resources and coordinating fishery policy.  Specifically, the commission ensures that fisheries resources are exploited on a sustainable basis, settles disputes and conflicts among operators, advises government on all matters related to fisheries, and advocates on issues to protect, promote and develop the fishing industry.  The Commission is, however, constrained by lack of funding to effectively deliver its mandate.

3.2  Department of Fisheries (DoF)

The Department of Fisheries (DoF) now serves as the implementation secretariat of the Fisheries Commission, as stipulated by the Fisheries Act 625 of 2002.  It fulfils this role by:

  • preparing fishery resource management plans;
  • developing regulations for the fishing industry;
  • organizing MCS for the national fishery resources and ensuring compliance with national fisheries law; and
  • institutionalizing co-management concepts.

DOF deliver these functions through several mechanisms, including sea patrols; observer programmes; port and landing inspection; licensing; vessel registration; formation and strengthening of CBFMCs; statistics gathering and analysis; and consensus building.

The DOF MCS Division was established under the Fisheries Subsector Capacity Building Project (FSCBP).  The mandate of the Division is to enforce the Fisheries Laws.

The MCS Division, with the collaboration of the Ghana Navy, conducts sea patrols to exclude industrial fishing vessels from the 30-m IEZ, reserved for artisanal fisheries. The Division also carries out quayside inspection of industrial vessels at the fishing ports of Tema and Takoradi, checking for valid fishing licences, legality of fishing gear, skipper’s certificate, log book and crew composition, and effects similar supervision of the Lake Volta fisheries.

3.3  District Assemblies

Operating under PNDC Law 327 of 1993, the Ministry of local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) is the key institution with responsibility for facilitating the establishment and development of a vibrant and well-resourced decentralized system of local government.  MLGRD is responsible for managing fishers, fish processors and fishery resources at district and subdistrict levels.

Recently, the District Assemblies in collaboration with DOF, have been mandated to facilitate fishery resource management by: helping in forming and sustaining CBFMCs; cooperating with the DoF MCS units; providing legal and financial support to the CBFMCs; and approving levies proposed by the CBFMCs.

3.4  Community-Based Fisheries Management Committees

A Community-Based Fisheries Management Committee (CBFMC) is defined as a local committee, formed in a fishing community, based on existing traditional leadership authority and local government structures, legally empowered by Common Law, and comprising all stakeholders, to oversee the management and development of the fishing industry.  The genesis of the CBFMCs was derives from DoF’s interest in ensuring a more sustainable national fishery resources through co-management.

The principal responsibility of the CBFMCs is to enforce national fisheries laws at community level, as well as to enact and enforce their own by-laws to the same end.

3.5  Other institutions

Other institutions that contribute to the management of fisheries resources in Ghana include:

  • The Volta River Authority.
  • NGOs, such as Friends of the Earth and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency.
  • Private commercial entities, such as the Agricultural Development Bank, Rural Banks, and Continental Christian Trader (a dealer in fishing nets).
  • Fisher associations, such as the National Inland Canoe Fishermen’s Council (NICFC), Ghana National Canoe Fishermen’s Council (GNCFC), Ghana National Association of Farmers and Fishermen, and Ghana Co-operative Fisheries Association.
4.  General Legal Framework

Fisheries management has been regulated over the years by a number of laws and regulations:

  • Fisheries Regulations LI364 of 1964.
  • NRCD 87 of 1972.
  • Fisheries (Amendment) Regulation 1977.
  • AFRCD 30 of 1979 (Fisheries Regulations) and the accompanying regulation, Fisheries Regulation 1979 LI 1235.
  • Fisheries Regulation 1984 (LI 1294).
  • PNDC Law 256 of 1991.
  • The Fisheries Act 625 of 2002.

Major sections in the laws relate to the building and importation of motor fishing vessels; licensing of fishing craft; manning of motor fishing vessels; and MCS.  The laws also address the prohibition of the use of explosives such as carbide and dynamite; gear restrictions; and prohibition of the landing of juvenile fish.

The current legislation governing the fisheries sector, Fisheries Act 625 of 2003, amends and consolidates existing laws on fisheries. It provides for regulation and management of the fisheries, the development of the fishing industry and the sustainable exploitation of the resources. It attempts to streamline legislation to respond directly to chronic and emerging issues and to conform to the national and international fishery resource development and management strategies.

Specifically, act consolidates and strengthens the legislation establishing the Fisheries Commission to oversee the Fisheries Directorate, which becomes a secretariat with structures responsible for policy-making, administration and enforcement.

Consistent with the current fisheries management and development strategies, the act provides:

  • rules and regulations to control industrial, semi-industrial and artisanal fishing through registration and licensing;
  • protection and promotion of artisanal and semi-industrial fisheries through extension services, technology transfer, exemptions, reserved areas for semi-industrial and artisanal fisheries, development of landing facilities, and cooperation among small-scale fish processors and marketers;
  • establishment of fishing zones, closed seasons and fishing reserves;
  • protection of gravid and juvenile lobsters and other crustacea, juvenile fish and marine mammals;
  • protection of fisheries water from pollution;
  • proactive MCS and enforcement through a special unit to work in collaboration with the Ghana Navy, Air Force, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Justice for effective policing and prosecution of offenders;
  • arrest, seizure, detention, fining, forfeitures and temporary bans for offending fishing vessels;
  • promotion and licensing of aquaculture projects, ensuring that they conform to environmental laws and specified operational standards; and
  • establishment of a fisheries development fund to help partially finance the execution of the fishery development and management strategy and enforce its rules and regulations.


In recent years, collaboration between the public, private commercial and private voluntary sectors has becoming more and more important. This heightening is driven by the recognition of the linkages between commerce, social development and sustainability interests of the various parties.

Government’s support for commercial interests in the fishing sector has centred on facilitating access to inputs (premix fuel, marine gas oil, fishing nets, outboard motors, marine engines) and supporting infrastructure development, with particular attention to safe landing sites.

Government has over the years pursued social development programmes in fishing communities. These include mobile clinics in the form of vessels to reach remote fishing communities, and non-formal education programmes.  Of particular significance to the fishing sector has been the government’s attempts to stabilize per capita fish consumption (around 20 kg) through the effective implementation of a responsive fish import policy.

Perhaps the most important agenda of government with respect to the fishing sector has been the efforts to ensure the sustainability of the natural fishing resource, and particularly of fish stocks in decline. Government has pursued a sustainability agenda through the establishment of MCS units, and co-management programmes involving collaboration with other government agencies, such as the Ghana Navy, District Assemblies and traditional leadership and enforcement institutions.

As part of its sustainability ensuring mechanism, government regulates the operations of private commercial fishers through registration fees and levies and penalties on offending vessels.

In pursing its cross-cutting commercial, social development and sustainability-ensuring agenda, government interacts and often collaborates with a number of private commercial and private voluntary organizations.

Government interactions with the private commercial fisheries sector are at the level of the individual firm in the case of industrial fishing and processing companies, and at the level of associations and CBFMCs for inshore and artisanal fisheries.

Government also maintains contacts and works with a number of fish importing firms to pursue its responsive fish import policy to ensure national fish food security.

By engaging in their fish capture and processing activities, complying with fishing sector regulation, paying registration fees and levies and importing fish, the private commercial sector contributes in variety of ways in pursuit of national fishing sector development goals.

The activities of private voluntary organizations complement government efforts in pursuit of national commercial fishery, social development and sustainability goals. These NGOs include the Friends of the Earth, Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and World Vision International (WVI). They have played notable roles by assisting in the training of CBFMCs, educating fishing communities and associations on sustainability issues, and facilitating the pursuit of alternative livelihoods by fishers and fish processors as a way of sustaining national fish stocks.


DoF has 45 offices and stations and one research vessel. In addition, it operates with vehicles.

Public investment in the fisheries sector in recent years has been in the areas of capacity building, infrastructure development and improved access to inputs and credit.

6.2  Capacity building

Current trends in the dictates of globalization have tended to exert new pressures on human capital, as higher standard are increasingly demanded by the global market. Of particular interest in recent years, however, has been the capacity of local Ghanaian producers to meet current quality standards enforced under the European Union import and food safety legislation since 1998. The most important issue has been that of food safety standards. Smoked fish is a commodity of particular interest after EU raised concerns that smoked fish from Ghana was processed under unhygienic conditions.

In response to these developments, a US$ 20 000 pilot project, sponsored by UNDP, ITC and Ghana Export Promotion Council (GEPC), is being undertaken under the export-led poverty reduction project to assist smoked-fish exporting companies to meet EU standards. It involves the construction, testing and replication of a pilot fish processing plant meeting EU specifications, to facilitate the processing of smoked fish under hygienic and sanitary conditions.

6.3  Infrastructure development

In 1999, a new fishing harbour – the Albert Bosomtwe Sam Fishing Harbour – was constructed at Sekondi, using a Government of Japan loan of US$ 13 million. The harbour is equipped with a cold store, an ice-making plant, offices, a berthing bay for inshore vessels, a jetty for canoes and a net drying area.

6.4  Access to inputs and credit

The Government of Ghana has continued to supply subsidized premix fuel to fishers through fisher associations. In 1998, nearly 51 million litres of premix fuel were sold.

Over the years, the Government of Ghana has been assisting the fishing industry by importing nets and ropes for sale to fishers direct at no profit. In 1997, the government invested a US$ 5 million grant from the Government of China to provide such support. Through the Agricultural Development Bank, these inputs were sold to fisher associations.

In 2001, the Government of Ghana imported 300 units of outboard motors, and quantities of netting materials for artisanal fisheries. The fishermen were requested to pay 60% of the cost of items to rural banks and Agricultural Development Bank branches in fishing communities before delivery.

In 2001, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture released ¢ 1.08 billion from its Fisheries Development Fund to purchase 60 outboard engines for sale to artisanal fishermen.

7.  Projection of demand and supply

A projection of demand and supply of fish in Ghana, computed from a baseline demand of 800 000 tonne in 2002, a population growth rate of 2.7% and an average achievement rate of 56% over the previous 5 years, is presented in Table 1.

Table 1.  Project fish supply and demand for Ghana, to 2013.


SUPPLY (tonne)

DEMAND (tonne)


511 836

913 992


584 767

1 044 226


668 090

1 193 017


763 286

1 363 010


783 894

1 399 811