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Part I Overview and main indicators

  1. Country brief
  2. General geographic and economic indicators
  3. FAO Fisheries statistics

Part II Narrative (2016)

  1. Production sector
    • Marine sub-sector
      • Catch profile
      • Landing sites
      • Fishing practices/systems
      • Main resources
      • Management applied to main fisheries
      • Fishing communities
    • Inland sub-sector
      • Catch profile
      • Landing sites
      • Fishing practices/systems
      • Main resources
      • Management applied to main fisheries
      • Fishing communities
    • Aquaculture sub-sector - NASO
    • Recreational sub-sector
  2. Post-harvest sector
    • Fish utilization
    • Fish markets
  3. Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sector
    • Role of fisheries in the national economy
    • Trade
    • Food security
    • Employment
    • Rural development
  4. Trends, issues and development
    • Constraints and opportunities
    • Government and non-government sector policies and development strategies
    • Research, education and training
      • Research
      • Education and training
    • Foreign aid
  5. Institutional framework
  6. Legal framework
    • Regional and international legal framework
  7. Annexes
  8. References

Additional information

  1. FAO Thematic data bases
  2. Publications
  3. Meetings & News archive

Part I Overview and main indicators

Part I of the Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile is compiled using the most up-to-date information available from the FAO Country briefs and Statistics programmes at the time of publication. The Country Brief and the FAO Fisheries Statistics provided in Part I may, however, have been prepared at different times, which would explain any inconsistencies.

Country briefPrepared: February 2016

The fishing industry in Ghana is based on resources from the marine and inland (freshwater) sectors and coastal lagoons. Total capture fisheries production was about 298 000 tonnes in 2013; around 24 percent of this production (90 000 tonnes) came from inland fisheries mostly based on Lake Volta, the largest man-made lake in Africa.

Production from marine fisheries has been declining since 1999, from almost 420 000 tonnes to 202 000 tonnes in 2014. Total fish exports showed a peak in 2003 with the value at USD 120 million but declined sharply to USD 44 million, while the peak of total fish export in quantity was at about 60 000 tonnes (product weight) in 2001. In order to sustain the per capita annual consumption of fish (estimated at around 24.2 kg in 2010), imports have increased substantially in the most recent years, reaching USD 373 million in 2013. As a result, the seafood trade balance moved from a USD 33 million surplus in 1997 to a USD 319 million deficit in 2013. It is estimated that the fisheries, mostly artisanal, employ over 29 300 fishing vessels, more than half without engine, and involve over 250 000 fishers.

Fish farming has grown rapidly from 1 200 tonnes in 2005 to 38 500 tonnes in 2014, spurred by high prices of tilapia, the quickly expanding cage farming in the Volta Basin and the high level of government interest and commitment. Tilapias constituted over 90 percent of the total aquaculture harvest. The Government has placed aquaculture as one of the top priorities in the country’s development agenda and substantial support is being given to fish farmers in various aspects of the industry. Aquaculture is also being promoted through restocking programs in Lake Volta, reservoirs and other water bodies and the rehabilitation of hatcheries and aquaculture demonstration centers.

The Government is actively seeking international cooperation to assist the country in further aquaculture development. The Government’s efforts are also targeted at modernizing the fisheries sector.

The Fisheries sector in Ghana is limited by a number of factors including:
  • Sizable catches occur only for a period of three months (usually July-September) because of seasonal fluctuations in abundance of small pelagic fish species (especially sardinellas); implying that monthly incomes from fishing can be minimal during the rest of the year.
  • Marine stocks are overexploited by the industrial fleet, leading to decline of harvests from marine fisheries.
  • Poor landing sites, post-harvest losses, poor equipment base and a lack of refrigeration facilities.
Ghana is Party to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea since June 1983 and to the FAO Compliance Agreement since May 2003.

Ghana is a member of the:
  • INFOPECHE (Intergovernmental Organization for Marketing Information and Cooperation Services for Fishery Products in Africa);
General geographic and economic indicators

Table 1 - Ghana -General Geographic and Economic Data

Marine water area (including the EEZ) 225 000 km2 Nunoo F.K.E, Asiedu B, Amador K, Belhabib D. & Pauly D (2014). Reconstruction of Marine Fisheries Catches for Ghana, 1950-2010, Fisheries Centre, The University of British Columbia. http://www.seaaroundus.org/doc/publications/wp/2014/Nunoo-et-al-Ghana.pdf P. 2
Shelf area 24 300 km2 Bank of Ghana (2008). The Fishing Subsector and Ghana’s Economy. https://www.bog.gov.gh/privatecontent/Research/Sector Studies. P. 4.
Length of continental coastline 550 km Bank of Ghana (2008). The Fishing Subsector and Ghana’s Economy. https://www.bog.gov.gh/privatecontent/Research/Sector Studies. P. 4.
GDP at purchaser's value (2014)

GHS 113 billion

USD 35.4 billion*

Ghana Statistical Service http://www.statsghana.gov.gh/gdp_revised.html
GDP per capita (2014) USD 1 442 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.CD
Agricultural GDP (2014)

GHS 23.3 billion

USD 7.3 billion*

Ghana Statistical Service http://www.statsghana.gov.gh/gdp_revised.html
Fisheries GDP (2014)

GHS 1.3 million

USD 400 million*

Ghana Statistical Service http://www.statsghana.gov.gh/gdp_revised.html
*Value converted by FAO as per UN currency exchange rate*Value converted by FAO as per UN currency exchange rate
**Per capita calculated by FAO and converted as per UN currency exchange rate

Key statistics

Country area238 540km2FAOSTAT. Official data, 2013
Land area227 540km2FAOSTAT. Expert sources from FAO (including other divisions), 2013
Inland water area11 000km2Computed. Calculated, 2013
Population - Est. & Proj.28.511millionsFAOSTAT. Official data, 2017
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) area227 218km2VLIZ

Source: FAO Country Profile

FAO Fisheries statisticsThe tables and graphs in this section are based on statistics prepared by the FAO Fishery Information, Data and Statistics Unit and disseminated in 2016.

Table 2 - Ghana–FAO Fisheries Statistics

      1980 1990 2000 2010 2012 2013 2014
PRODUCTION (thousand tonnes) 231.9 396.2 457.1 377.3 400.4 334.5 331.5
    Inland 40.3 58.4 79.5 100.2 117.5 122.5 128.5
    Marine 191.6 337.9 377.6 277.1 283.0 212.0 203.0
  Aquaculture 0.3 0.4 5.0 10.2 27.5 32.5 38.5
    Inland 0.3 0.4 5.0 10.2 27.5 32.5 38.5
    Marine 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
  Capture 231.6 395.9 452.1 367.1 373.0 302.0 293.0
    Inland 40.0 58.0 74.5 90.0 90.0 90.0 90.0
    Marine 191.6 337.9 377.6 277.1 283.0 212.0 203.0
TRADE (USD million)              
  Import 34.2 11.1 83.6 146.4 244.2 373.0 0.0
  Export 42.0 21.6 78.5 55.2 59.4 53.8 0.0
EMPLOYMENT (thousands) 103.0 103.0 184.0 185.6 160.8 263.8 263.8
  Aquaculture 1.0 1.0 2.0 3.6 11.8 11.8 11.8
  Capture 102.0 102.0 182.0 182.0 149.0 252.0 252.0
    Inland 25.0 25.0 72.0 72.0 72.0 175.0 175.0
    Marine 77.0 77.0 110.0 110.0 77.0 77.0 77.0
FLEET(thousands boats) ... 4.6 9.3 29.0 29.0 29.0 29.0
  Fish food supply (thousand tonnes in live weight equivalent) 238.5 392.5 585.7 586.9      
  Per Capita Supply (kilograms) 22.1 26.8 31.1 24.2      
  Fish Proteins (grams per capita per day) 7.4 9.0 10.4 8.0      
  Fish/Animal Proteins (%) 57.9 62.4 65.3 53.0      
  Fish/Total Proteins (%) 20.1 22.7 20.2 13.4      

Source: FAO Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics

1) Excluding aquatic plants

2) Due to roundings total may not sum up

Figure 1 — Ghana — Total fishery production
Figure 1 — Ghana — Total fishery production

Figure 2 — Ghana— Production of aquatic plants
Figure 2 — Ghana— Production of aquatic plants

Figure 3 — Ghana — Capture production
Figure 3 — Ghana — Capture production

Figure 4 — Ghana — Major species groups in capture production
Figure 4 — Ghana — Major species groups in capture production

Figure 5 — Ghana — Composition of capture production - 2014
Figure 5 — Ghana — Composition of capture production - 2014

Figure 6 — Ghana — Aquaculture production
Figure 6 — Ghana — Aquaculture production

Figure 7 — Ghana —Major species groups in aquaculture production
Figure 7 — Ghana —Major species groups in aquaculture production

Figure 8 — Ghana — Import and export value of fish and fishery products
Figure 8 — Ghana — Import and export value of fish and fishery products

Figure 9 — Ghana – Major species groups in import
Figure 9 — Ghana – Major species groups in import

Figure 10 — Ghana – Major species groups in export
Figure 10 — Ghana – Major species groups in export

Figure 11 — Ghana — Per capita supply of fish and fishery products
Figure 11 — Ghana — Per capita supply of fish and fishery products

Figure 12 — Ghana — Composition of total fish food supply - 2011
Figure 12 — Ghana — Composition of total fish food supply - 2011

Updated 2016Part II Narrative

Part II of the Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile provides supplementary information that is based on national and other sources and that is valid at the time of compilation (see update year above). References to these sources are provided as far as possible.

Production sectorThe fisheries sector plays a significant role in the socioeconomic development of Ghana. Bordered on the south by the Gulf of Guinea, Ghana, spanning an area of 238 500 km2, has a narrow continental shelf with a total area of about 24 300 km2. Ghana has a territorial sea of 12 nautical miles (nm) a contiguous zone of 24 nm and an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 200 nm, covering an area of 225 000 km2. With this combination of valuable attributes, and a 550-kilometre coastline which stretches from Aflao in the East to Half Assini in the West, Ghana’s fisheries sector contributes significantly towards sustainable livelihoods, food security and poverty reduction.

Ghana’s fishing industry started in the 1700sas an artisanal fishery with very simple and inefficient gear, craft and methods, operating close to coastal waters, lagoons, estuaries and rivers. Currently, the sector is based on fishery resources from the sea and, to a lesser extent, inland fisheries and aquaculture. While marine species are fished in the abundant territorial marine waters, freshwater fish are sourced from Lake Volta, rivers, reservoirs and inland aquaculture systems.

Ghana’s fisheries sector consists of a varied and vigorous spectrum of fishing activities, ranging in scope from subsistence to semi-industrial, to industrial fisheries. Within this broad range, fish stocks are harvested from rivers, lakes, coastal lagoons and shallow seas and offshore waters in the Atlantic Ocean. Six different sources of domestic fish supply, including the marine fishery, lagoon fishery, Lake Volta, other inland fisheries, aquaculture and imports, can be obtained in Ghana. The fishing operations in Ghana consist of three subsectors: industrial, semi industrial and artisanal subsectors. The artisanal subsector is responsible for over 70 percent of the total fish production and employs over 60 percent of the women involved in the fishery value chain.Ghana’s waters host a wide variety of fish species. Both pelagic and demersal fisheries resources are exploited in Ghana and contribute almost equally to the national catch. The marine catch profile includes cape hake, grunt, sea bream, tilapia, herring, mackerel, barracuda and tuna.

Ghana’s current fish production stands in the neighborhood of 400 000 metric tonnes a year from its marine fisheries, inland waters and aquaculture. As many as 2.6 million Ghanaians, representing 10 percent of the population, are dependent on the fisheries sector for their livelihoods. Lake Volta is Ghana’s single most important source of inland fish catch. It hosts about 140 fish species and provides livelihood for about 300 000 Ghanaians who live around the lake. The predominant fishing gear used in the artisanal fishery includes seines, set nets, draft gill nets and hook and line.

However, most of Ghana’s fishery resources are heavily overexploited, and Ghana only produces a fraction of its annual fish requirements, with the sector recording a decline in production over the past couple of years. This is evidenced from the contribution of fisheries to the GDP, which has decreased from about 6 percent in 1993 to the present level of 4.5 percent. Also, in terms of absolute output, fish landing has fallen, even if inconsistently, over the years. Aquaculture is fairly recent and still developing in Ghana, having started about 60 years ago. Ghana is imbued with enormous potential for both freshwater and brackish water aquaculture and culture-based fisheries. Ghana abounds in water bodies, favourable climate, conducive geographic relief and enterprising human capital, all of which enable fish farming nationwide. Aquaculture is practiced in all 10 regions of Ghana, especially in the southern and central belts. The main fish species farmed in Ghana are Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and African catfish (Clarias gariepinus). About 58 000 people or 0.22 percent of Ghana’s population of 26.4 million are actively engaged in aquaculture as an economic activity. Aquaculture is thriving and has speedily been embraced as a major sustainable economic activity by the government, corporate bodies and individuals in Ghana. Recreational fishing is very popular in Ghana.Direct fisheries contribution to Ghana’s economy is significant, accounting for 4.5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 12 percent of the agriculture GDP and 10 percent of the workforce. Fish has, over the years, maintained a prime position as the favorite source of animal protein in Ghana, with about 75 percent of annual production being consumed locally. The mean per capita fish consumption in Ghana is estimated at about 26 kg. Further, fish notably accounts for as much as 60 percent of animal protein in the average Ghanaian diet, and 22.4 percent of household food expenditures.

Ghana’s current total fish consumption is in the order of one million metric tonnes. Whereas Ghana produces about 400 000 tonnes, it imports up to 600 000 tonnes of fish worth over USD 200 million per annum. Fish is the most important source of animal protein in Ghana and is, therefore, a very significant part of the diet. It is consumed across the demographic spectrum, by the rural poor and by the urban rich, by the young and the old, in all regions of Ghana. Ghana is a major fish-consuming African nation.

Export earnings from fish and fish products are a significant source of foreign exchange for the government of Ghana. Fish is the second most important non-traditional export after horticultural products, Ghana’s longstanding economic mainstay and premium traditional export commodity being cocoa. Fish and seafood exports generate foreign exchange and revenue in the form of taxes for the Ghanaian government. These exports consist of tuna (whole, loins and canned), frozen fish, shrimps, lobsters, cuttlefish and smoke-dried fish, etcetera.

The fisheries sector also plays a very important role in poverty alleviation in Ghana. Many poor and vulnerable Ghanaians depend on fisheries either directly or indirectly for their livelihoods. Numerous postharvest opportunities are available in the sector to gainfully engage the needy Ghanaian either full-time or on part-time basis.

Marine sub-sectorCatch profileThe marine subsector is the most important source of local fish production in Ghana, contributing about 80 percent of the total fish supply, with its annual average catch being about 300 000 metric tonnes.The marine subsector has its own three subsectors, namely small-scale (artisanal or canoe), semi-industrial (or inshore) and industrial (or offshore). The most significant of these subsectors in terms of volume of output, with at least 70 percent of the total marine supply, is the artisanal subsector. The artisanal subsector is operated from 304 landing sites in 189 fishing villages located along the coast, and about 1.5 million people depend on it for their livelihood. The semi-industrial (or inshore) sector targets both small pelagic and demersal species and produces some 2 percent of total marine catch, while operating from 7 landing sites. Trawlers, shrimpers and tuna fishing fleets make up the industrial subsector, out of which tuna vessels contribute 22 percent and the shrimpers account for 6 percent of the total marine production.

The most common fish species landed in Ghana are the small pelagics, such as mackerel, horse mackerel, chub mackerel, sardines, and anchovies. These small pelagic species account for about 70 percent of the total marine fish capture in Ghana. Of these exploited pelagics, the most commercially-important in Ghana’s coastal fisheries are the sardinellas, namely round sardinella (Sardinella aurita) and Madeiran sardinella (S. maderensis) which occur in the entire Gulf of Guinea3.

Other fish species commonly caught in Ghana’s waters include cassava fish, flat sardinella, largehead hairtail, moonfish, red pandora, red snapper, skipjack tuna, yellowfin tuna and groupers. Also, valuable demersal fish such as sole, shrimp, cuttlefish, burrito, red fishes (Sparidae) and burros (Pomadasidae) are exploited, especially during the upwelling seasons.

Landing sitesA total of 304 landing centers situated in 189 fishing villages can be found along the coast of Ghana.

Akwidaa, a small town located in the Ahanta West District in the Western Region of Ghana, is an important fishing village and fish-landing site. The fishing village of Chokor in the Accra Metropolis District of the Greater Accra Region, from which the improved fish-smoking oven got its name, is also an important fish landing site. So also are Ada Foah and Prampram, some 50 km east of Accra. Other landing sites are located at Tema Canoe Beach, Ningo, Ahwean, Akplabanya, Winneba, Sekondi, New Amanful and Funkoe.The government of Ghana has earmarked the construction of modern harbours at Jamestown and Elmina. Also 25 landing sites equipped with facilities, including ice-making machines, fish-processing plants, cold stores and crèches, have been proposed for construction at Teshie, Ada, Axim, Dixcove, Winneba, Mumford, Senya-Beraku, Gomoa Fetteh, Moree, Keta, Dzemeni and Tapa Abotoase.

Fishing practices/systemsThe craft type employed in Ghana’s marine capture fishery includes dugout canoes, canoes with outboard motors, trawlers, and large steel-hulled foreign-built vessels used for industrial fishing. The dugout canoes and canoes fitted with outboard motors are mostly used by the artisanal fishers while trawlers and steel-hulled vessels are used mainly in the semi-industrial and industrial marine fisheries.

There is currently a total of 12 000 marine artisanal canoes operating along the coast, 150 semi-industrial vessels and 84 licenced industrial trawlers in Ghana’s marine waters. About 6 405 of the artisanal canoes are motorized.

Many larger fishing vessels are also motorized with 40 horsepower outboard engines whereas smaller canoes still use sail power. Larger canoes, mainly motorized, specialize in hook and line, and use ice to preserve high-value fish in insulated containers, with some using electronic fish finding devices such as echo-sounders.

For the semi-industrial (inshore) fishery, locally-built wooden boats measuring 9-12 meters in length and fitted with 30-90 horsepower engines are engaged in the exploitation of the resources. Most vessels are dual-purpose, being able to use trawls or purse seines. These vessels operate during the upwelling seasons using purse seines mainly in the inshore waters at depths of 30-50m where they compete with the artisanal fishing fleet. In the process, they land about 2 percent of the total marine output.The industrial fishing fleet operates offshore at depths of 50 -75m and they are fitted with 30-200 horsepower diesel engines and equipped with purse seine or pole and line live-baited with anchovy, with which they exploit tunas (skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye) and high-value cephalopods which are frozen at sea for export. They comprise large, steel-hulled foreign-built trawlers; tuna pole-and-line vessels and purse seiners, and shrimpers. Industrial fishers contribute about 6 percent of the total marine production.

Fishing gear commonly used in the artisanal fishery includes purse seines (“poli/watsa”), beach seines, drift gill nets, and surface set nets. Artisanal fishers also employ various forms of bottom set-nets, and hook and line (“lagas”). Fishing vessels equipped with either drift gill nets or hook and line usually operate beyond 50-metre depth water zone. Specifically, those fishing with hook and line (“lagas”) have on board ice, food and fishing aids such as fish finders and Global Positioning System (GPS). Artisanal marine fishing accounts for about 80 percent of total annual marine fish catch by volume.

Main resourcesGhana’s waters host a total of 485 fish species, out of which 347 representing 72 percent and belonging to 82 families are captured in the coastal waters. There are also 17 cephalopod species from 5 families and 25 crustacean species from 15 families in Ghana’s territorial waters.

Some of these fish species include small pelagics of the families Clupeidae, Scombridae (chub-mackerels) and Engrulidae (anchovies); large pelagic species of the family Thumidae (tunas); and demersal species of the families Sparidae, Lutjandae (Snappers), Mullidae, Pomadasydae, Serranidae (groupers), and Polynemidae (threadfins). Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), skipjack (Katsuwonus pelamis) and bigeye (Thunnus obesus) are the major commercial tuna species which occur in Ghana’s waters.Tuna is of major commercial importance in Ghana as a result of its export revenues and sustainability, which has been estimated at 100 000 tonnes annually by the Fisheries Commission. The two tuna species of utmost importance in Ghana’s EEZ are skipjack (Katsuwonus pelamis) and yellowfin (Thunnus albacares). The tunas, being the major large pelagic fish in Ghana’s waters, undertake long-range migrations in the Atlantic Ocean, across national boundaries, and constitute the major fisheries resource that can withstand considerable expansion in Ghana.

On average, Ghana produces about 430 000 metric tonnes of fish each year from its numerous waters, including fish culture systems. Most of Ghana’s domestic marine fish supply is from the artisanal fishery and, of this, the dominant resources are small pelagics, especially the round sardinella, flat sardinella, anchovy and chub mackerel, which collectively account for about 70 percent of total marine fish production.Seasonal upwelling, which occurs in the coastal waters between December/January – February and again between July- September, influence marine fisheries in Ghana. Fish abundance is higher during the upwelling seasons, resulting in landings being greatest during the major upwelling period of July- September.However, many of Ghana’s fish stocks are heavily overexploited, as unlawful fishing methods and poaching, amongst other factors, have combined to cause the capture fish production to be on the decline. Factors responsible for the declining trend in the fishing industry in Ghana include, amongst others, overfishing and lack of good fisheries management systems, lack of infrastructure and modernization of the industry; dominance of, and poaching by foreign distant-water fleets. Many of the countries where Ghanaian fleets had historically fished declared their own EEZ in the 1980s. This led Ghana’s industrial fleet to relocate to Ghana, resulting in the overexploitation of fish stocks in its EEZ and the collapse of its industrial distant-water fleet.
Management applied to main fisheriesUnder Ghana’s fisheries legislations, regulations such as closed areas, closed seasons, control on mesh sizes of nets, protection of juvenile fish or berried crustaceans, and fishery licensing, have been introduced.

Ghana has enacted the Republic of Ghana Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy (the Policy) and the Ghana Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Plan (the Plan) both of which are valuable tools in the management of the fisheries sector. The Policy is a blueprint that provides the government’s framework for the fisheries contribution to the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRSP) 11 objectives of doubling the size of the Ghanaian economy by 2015. It establishes five strategic pillars on which the development and management of fisheries in Ghana will be built and the principles that will be applied to guide this process.

On its own, the Ghana Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Plan (the Plan) describes the steps that will be taken to implement the Policy over the next five years. The Plan sets seven clear targets to be met in five years and the programme of activities that will be implemented to meet these targets.

The implementation of the plan is targeted at:

  • maintaining current capture fisheries production (target 1),
  • increasing revenue and profitability in capture fisheries by at least US$50 million per year after five years (targets 2 and 3),
  • increasing aquaculture production from 9 000 to 100 000 tonnes per annum within five years (target 4),
  • retaining Ghana as a landing and processing hub for the West Africa tuna industry (target 5),
  • developing fisheries management to allow effective control of all commercial fishing effort in Ghanaian waters (target 6), and
  • ensuring fisheries management costs are sustainable and that the fisheries sector overall makes a fiscal contribution to Government revenues (target 7).

As part of its commitment to combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, Ghana’s Fisheries Commission has installed Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) on all industrial Ghana-registered trawl fishing vessels as well as on all Ghanaian large-scale tuna fishing vessels. The requirement for VMS as a condition for fishing vessels proceeding to sea and fishing is required under Ghana’s statutes.

Management objectives

The Ghana Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Plan provides clear operational targets for implementing the Ghana Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy over the next five years. The table below shows the linkages between the Policy and the seven five-year targets.

Policy strategic areas of focus Five year Target

Policy Area 1:

Management of fisheries, conservation of aquatic resources and protection of their natural environment

1. Quantity of capture fishery production maintained (no fish stock collapses)

Policy Area 2:

The promotion of value addition in the fisheries sector and the improvement of livelihood in the fisheries communities

2. Value of annual fish income increased by US$50 million from value added projects

3. Fisheries sector achieving annual surplus of income over costs of US$ 50 million from value added projects and efficiency gains

4. Ghana (the Port of Tema) remains a landing and processing hub within the West Africa tuna fishery

Policy Area 3:

The sustainable development of aquaculture

5. Aquaculture production has expanded ten times by volume (100 000 tonnes per annum)

Policy Area 4:

The improvement [and sustainability] of services provided to the sector by the [Fisheries Commission] and other supporting institutions

6. Fisheries management and compliance systems are in place to allow effective control of all commercial fishing effort in Ghanaian waters

7. Government of Ghana fisheries management costs are self-funding (fisheries sector overall makes a fiscal contribution to Government revenues)

Title: Table 3 – Ghana – Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Plan Targets

Source: Republic of Ghana Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector Development Plan 2011 – 2016. http://warfp.gov.gh/sites/default/files/FASDP%20Final%20July%202011.pdf P. 7.

Also, Ghana has instituted a Marine Fisheries Management Plan. The five-year plan, which began in 2015, provides a strategic framework for reversing the declining trend of fish resources and establishes a sound management regime to ensure that fish stocks are exploited sustainably in an enhanced environment. One of its management strategies is the "closed season," which places ban on fishing to decrease pressure on the stocks and allow fish to spawn during spawning season and recruit back in the marine environment.

Management measures and institutional arrangements

The Fisheries Commission has the following major functions, which have do with efficient management of the fisheries of Ghana:
  • Prepare and keep under continual review plans for the management and development of fisheries in waters under the jurisdiction of Ghana.
  • establish priorities for the utilization of fishery resources which will provide the greatest benefits to the country;
  • ensure the proper conservation of the fishery resources through the prevention of overfishing;
  • strive to minimize, as far as practicable, gear conflict among users;
  • ensure the monitoring, control and surveillance of the fishery waters.

To effectively combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and avert possible international trade sanctions by major trading partners, particularly the European Union (EU) which is the world’s largest importer of fisheries products, Ghana has reformed its fisheries governance system, amended its legal framework, strengthened its sanctioning systems, improved monitoring and control of Ghana-flagged fishing fleets as well as complying with international law.

Fishing communitiesThe marine capture fishery is an important traditional economic activity for coastal communities and contributes over 80 percent of Ghana’s total fish catch. The small-scale artisanal marine fishing communities generally contribute a significant portion of the traditional sector landings.Fishers in each community belong to a fisher association, which is an organized structure for addressing members’ collective needs and for relating with relevant government agencies and other industry stakeholders. The association, notably, plays an important role as a forum for fishers’ co-management of the fisheries resources.Many poor and vulnerable Ghanaians, especially those resident in rural fishing communities, rely on the fisheries sector either directly or indirectly for their livelihoods. There are many fish postharvest activities in the fishing communities to support such people.

Inland sub-sectorCatch profileLake Volta hosts about 140 species of fish, and is estimated to produce about 16 percent of total domestic catch and 85 percent of inland fisheries output. Common freshwater species landed from Lake Volta are various species of tilapia, Chrysichtys sp., Synodontis, Mormyrids, Heterotis, Clarias sp., Bagrus sp., Citharinus sp. and the Nile perch (Lates niloticus). The months of July to August make up the peak landing season, while the low fishing period runs between January and February.

Landing sitesThe inland capture fishery landing sites can be regionally distributed as follows: Upper West (Bagri, Viera, Sankana, Jawia, Bilibor); Brong Ahafo (Yeji); Upper East (Tono, Viera White & Red Volta Rivers); Volta (Kpando Torkor, Abotoase, Dzemeni, Dambai); Eastern Region (Kpong, Akosombo, Akateng); Northern (Buipe, Nasia); and Central (Dunkwa-on-Offin). Lake Volta, one of the world’s largest artificial lakes, is Ghana’s most important source of inland capture fishery and has the most prominent inland fish landing sites. Other inland fishing centres include numerous smaller rivers, and over 50 lagoons covering 40 000 hectares, as well as other lakes. These include Bosomtwi, Weija, Barekese, Tano, Oti, Afram, Pra, Densu, Vea and Kpong.

Fishing practices/systemsThe prevalent fishing craft in Ghana’s inland capture fishery are the dug-out canoe and planked boats. These are powered by either wooden paddles or by inboard or outboard engine.There are between 17 500and 24 000fishing boats and canoes operating cast and gill nets, hook-and-line, and traps in the exploitation of the inland fishery resources of Ghana.

Main resourcesGhana has a large expanse of water bodies. About 10 percent of Ghana’s land surface is covered by water. This includes a system of rivers, lagoons and lakes that form the basis of a robust inland fisheries industry.The main sources of freshwater fish in Ghana are Lake Volta, reservoirs originally meant for irrigation and potable water projects, and fish ponds. Lake Volta, with a surface area of 8 480 km² and 5 200 km of shoreline, contributes about 90 percent of the total inland fishery production in Ghana. Specifically, Ghana’s inland capture fishery straddles fish production from Lake Volta, River Volta (Black, White and Red) which stretches 50 km into the sea, Afram River, Sene River, Daka River, Densu, Oti and Pra Rivers, dams, other lakes and lagoons, including some 300 small dams and reservoirs in northern Ghana alone. Other inland waters include Keta Lagoon (330 sq.km.) and more than 50 brackish water bodies dotting the coastline, most of which are Ramsar (Convention on Wetlands)-designated sites.Table 4 shows the major inland water bodies and their fishery potential.
Lakes and Reservoirs



Fishery Potential

(Metric tonnes /year)

Volta 8 482 40 000
Lake Bosumtwi (Ghana’s only natural lake) 49.0 600
Weija 37.0 420
Kpong 36.5 -
Tano 18.6 22.5
Barekese 6.4 80
Others 117.0 145
Total 8 746.5 41 267.5
Source: Adapted from, Bank of Ghana (2008). The Fishing Subsector and Ghana’s Economy. https://www.bog.gov.gh/privatecontent/Research/Sector Studies P.10.Table 4 – Ghana – Inland Water Bodies and their Fishery Potential

Lake Volta is host to about 140 species of fish. Fish landings from this lake are dominated by tilapia species (38.1%), Chrysichtys spp. (34.4%), synodrantis sp. (11.4%), Labes (3.4%), Mormyrids (2.0%) Heterotis (1.5%) Clarias sp. (1.5%), Clarias spp. (1.5%), schilbeide (1.4%), odaxothrissa mento (1.4%), Bagrus spp. (1.35) and Citharinus spp. (1.2%) and the rest which are less than 1% include Alestes sp., Brycinas sp. Distichodus spp., Gymnarchus spp.; Hydrocynus spp. ; and Lates niloticus.

Lake Volta yields an annual fish volume of some 75 000 tonnes. This, added to the estimated output from other inland waterways, gives a total inland capture fishery production of over 80 000 metric tonnes, more than twice their total potential yield, thus resulting in a significant overexploitation of the resources.Available catch data from these waters indicate over-exploitation of the fishery resources, which commenced in the early 1980s with the introduction of illegal fishing methods, such as use of drag nets and winch nets. Consequently, between 65 and 70 percent of commercial fish catches is landed by illegal fishing methods.

Management applied to main fisheriesGhana has established Community-Based Fisheries Management Committees (CBFMs) and the District Fisheries Management Committees at the local level, as a fishery management decentralization strategy, which also attempts to curb IUU fishing. These Committees operate in all fish-landing sites in Ghana, and serve as a means of involving the fisher-folk in the management and administration of the fish resource. The committees consist of industry stakeholders in the different fishing communities, who co-manage the fishery resources in their respective communities together with the government, by regulating fishery activities through the proper implementation of fisheries laws and regulations.

In a bid to support fishers to increase fish production, Ghana’s Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development supplies outboard motors to fishers through a credit programme. The Ministry has also constructed additional fish landing sites equipped with storage facilities.

Fishing communitiesMost fishing communities in Ghana enjoy stable social cohesion and steady economic development, both of which are leveraged by sustainable livelihoods derived from fisheries. Such communities in the Eastern Region, including Sumuer, Odortorm, Petefour, Odomeabra, Nketepa, Nrahponya, Adakope, Troameleveme, Gonyokope, Agaradzi, Abuakwa and Mpaem in Fanteakwa and Kwahu East, are all resilient and rely heavily on fish for sustenance, income, food security and many other facets of life.Fishers are registered in fisher associations in each community, through which they exercise participatory management of the resources they exploit, as well as handle their mutual concerns.There is occasionally an internal migration of people to the Lake Volta fishing community, especially from coastal areas or other agribusiness communities that are faced with a decline in production. For such new entrants taking up fishery-related activities from other activities in some other place, the fisheries sector offers a fall-back livelihood strategy.

Aquaculture sub-sectorAquaculture has a great potential in Ghana where it has the capacity to bridge the huge gap existing between fish demand and supply, and even produce in excess of domestic demand for export. Ghana has the potential for, and places much value on the development of, inland and brackish water aquaculture and culture-based fisheries as an important means of increasing national fish production.

Ghana abounds in rivers, seas, dams and dugouts, all of which make aquaculture feasible nationwide. With favorable environmental and institutional conditions of suitable topography and climate and government support, abundance of resourceful human capital, availability of natural water bodies and high demand for fish, etcetera, Ghana is making quick, giant strides in aquaculture development.

Ghana’s foray into aquaculture started with the initiatives of the British colonial Administration in 1953 when the first ponds were built as hatcheries to support the culture-based reservoir fishery development programme and as a way of supplementing the national demand for fish and increasing livelihood opportunities. Post- independence in 1957, the national government adopted a policy to develop fishponds within all irrigation schemes in the country. The government built irrigation facilities under a policy of converting 5 per cent of the scheme into fish farms, where technically possible. Thereafter, a massive Government promotion of the industry followed with the construction of about 2 000 ponds in the early 1980s, though without much success. Of recent, however, a rapid increase in production has resulted in the introduction of numerous floating cages in Volta Lake and Volta River. The recent participation of foreign commercial investors in the sector has drastically and positively altered the face of fish farming in the country. Though fish farming is a fairly new business activity in Ghana, its practice is becoming widespread, especially in the Ashanti, Central, Eastern, Volta and Western regions of the country.The aquaculture subsector consists mainly of small-scale operators who practice on a subsistence level using the semi-intensive system of production in earthen ponds. Many farmers employ the extensive culture system by which dams, dugout ponds and reservoirs are used for fish rearing. A few commercial fish farmers who use intensive culture systems account for about 75 percent of Ghana’s total aquaculture production.Pond-based culture system is the dominant production system in the southern and central belts of Ghana, accounting for over 98 percent of farms, and is mainly small scale and semi-intensive in nature. In the last couple of years, however, the dominant culture system for tilapia production has changed, and the vast majority of cultured tilapia is now being farmed intensively in cages, particularly in Lake Volta.

Fish-holding systems commonly used in Ghana include floating cages, earthen ponds and concrete tanks. Of all farmed fish in Ghana, between 75 percent and 93 percent are derived from floating cages, while at least 7 percent are harvested from ponds. The cage farming of tilapia is concentrated in Lake Volta and has developed fast as a business activity at an annual growth rate of 73 percent between 2009 and 2014.The first cage fish farm in Ghana was established in 2001. Cage farms currently account for less than 2 percent of farms by number but much more by catch output. The vast majority of cage farms are located in the Asuogyaman District in the Eastern Region, with most small-scale cage farms concentrated between Akosombo Dam and Kpong Dam. Several medium-sized cage farms are installed in areas such as Kpeve in South Dayi District of Volta Region, Sedom in Asuogyaman District and Akrusu in Upper Manya Krobo District of Eastern Region. Fish farming in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions in the north is largely carried out in extensive or culture-based fisheries. These fisheries exist at irrigation sites, reservoirs and earthen dams.

The emergence of the cage farming system has brought with it a boom in the private fish hatchery business, with seed production soaring to over 130 million fingerlings in 2013. Most large-scale commercial fish farms in Ghana operate cage culture systems on Lake Volta; others operate both earthen ponds and cage systems.Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) is the predominant and preferred fish species for farming, market and consumption in Ghana. Tilapia species represents over 80 percent of farmed fish harvest, with a current production of 40 000 tonnes per year. Catfish Clarias gariepinus and Heterobranchus species make up the remaining 20 percent of culture species. Heterotis niloticus, silver carp and tiger prawn (Penaeus monodom) have also been cultivated, though sparingly and often for experimental purposes. Shellfish farming is not popular in Ghana. However, the government recently announced plans to improve shrimp larvae production to supply shrimp farmers.The most common supplementary feeds used by Ghana’s fish farmers, particularly the many small-scale rural pond farmers, are wheat bran, maize bran, rice bran and brans of other cereals, which are readily available on the local market. Other supplementary feeds include agricultural wastes such as cocoyam leaves, agricultural-industrial byproducts such as local brewery waste, and household food waste. A few pond farmers use commercial floating feed, which is relatively expensive. Commercial feed was all imported to Ghana until 2011, when a feed mill was established in Ghana.Fish feed is expensive in Ghana and is responsible for the high aquaculture production costs. They make up about 70 percent of the total production cost, with the imported feeds being 30 percent more expensive than the locally-produced ones. The major local fish feed producer produces 25 000 tonnes for use in Ghana and another 5 000 tonnes for export to other countries of West Africa. While the number of small-scale fish farms in Ghana is over 2 869, Ghana currently has about 5 000 fish farmers operating some 19 000 fish ponds and cages. And while Ghana’s annual aquaculture production at the outset of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector Development Plan 2011- 2016 stood at over 9 000 metric tonnes, with the bulk of the production obtained from a few commercial farms that produced tilapia by cage culture, Ghana’s aquaculture output for 2013 was over 30 000 metric tonnes of fish, out of which 33 760 tonnes or nearly 88 percent came from cages. In order to stimulate aquaculture growth, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development has prohibited the importation of farmed fish, particularly frozen tilapia, and has set up the Ghana National Aquaculture Development Plan (GNADP) with an ambitious production target of 100 000 metric tonnes of fish at the end of 2016, up from the 2010 production volume of 10 200 tonnes and the 27 000-tonne production in 2012. The Plan whose main goal is to improve the practice, management and development of aquaculture as a viable business activity and whose implementation is expected to cost USD 85 million, was developed in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The National Aquaculture Strategic Framework (2006) and the Ghana National Aquaculture Development Plan (GNADP) (2013) are two policy tools aimed at the development and management of Ghana’s aquaculture.
Recreational sub-sectorRecreational fishing is popular in Ghana.

The port cities of Tema and Takoradi, the Volta estuary at Ada, and the River Volta, all popular sport fishing destinations in Ghana. With a preferred gear and fishing method, including trolling, baited fishing rods and hook and line, recreational fishers in Ghana’s waters target a wide range of species, including striped bass, billfish, sharks, drumfish, barracuda, blue marlin, cod, bagrus, flounder, bluefish, croaker, and tiger fish (Hydrocynus brevis) amongst others.
Post-harvest sectorFish utilizationThe post-harvest sector in Ghana engages a myriad workforce, including fish processors, wholesalers and retailers, etcetera. The key players in the sector are women, who make up to 70 percent of the labour force.

Fish, both wild-caught and farmed, are largely sold fresh and as a whole product in Ghana. However, an appreciable part of the catch is either frozen or processed by smoke-drying, salting and or fermentation. And some fish are deep-fried or placed on ice when being moved from one location to another.

Fish curing in Ghana is largely undertaken at small-scale or medium-scale level, usually at individual homes, and consists of methods such as smoking, drying, salting, frying and fermenting.

There are two large tuna canneries in Ghana: the Pioneer Food Cannery, and the Ghana Agro-Food Company. The products of these canning factories go to the EU countries, USA, neighboring countries and the domestic market.

The government has a new turnkey fish processing plant at Elmina in the Central Region. The project is designed to handle descaling, gutting, filleting and packaging of fish, with the overall objective of reducing post-harvest losses and adding value to the catch.A new fish cold store has been built at Prampram in the Ningo-Prampram District of Ghana. The plant has two refrigerated anterooms, one freezing tunnel, one flake ice factory, one ice bin, a standby generator, office and a water reservoir. Five other such plants have been planned for Nyanyano and Kronmantse in the Central Region, Shama, Half Assini and New Takoradi, all in the Western Region.A new fish-smoking technology, the FTT-Thiaroye, was recently launched in Ghana. The innovation, by which fish is smoke-dried on a simple rack, produces healthier products to meet local and international standards.Postharvest losses of Ghana’s fish landings range between 3 percent and 17 percent of smoked fish, and between 16 percent and 20 percent of gillnet landings5.

Fish marketsIn Ghana, fish marketing is an important occupation, employing many citizens, especially women, in rural and urban communities, on both part-time and fulltime basis. Fish are mainly sold fresh at local markets which are scattered all over the country. There are many fish mongers and middlepersons in the form of wholesalers and retailers through whom the product passes from the fisher or processor to the ultimate consumer.

Domestic fish supply in Ghana originates from marine fisheries, inland fisheries (from lagoons, dams, rivers, Lake Volta, etc.), aquaculture and imports.

Tilapia, especially of the size range of 250 – 350g, commands a high demand in Ghana. The southern and middle parts of Ghana are most active in fish marketing, with fish consumption levels also being highest there.

Demand for smoked fish is higher in inland areas, such as Ashanti Region, than in coastal zones. There is a burgeoning demand for live catfish in Nigerian restaurants in Accra and Kumasi.Accra, the capital city, is the most important domestic fish market and consumption center in Ghana. Kumasi, Tarkwa, Tema and Sekondi-Takoradi are the other important fish-consumption centres. The major inland fish trading centers on Lake Volta are Yeji, Kpandu-Tokor, Buipe, Atimpoku, Agormenya and Kete Krachi.

Dominating the domestic fish trade are female fish traders popularly known as “fish mummies” or “konkofo” who usually pre-finance fishing trips and purchase fish directly from fishers for distribution to other actors in the fish value-chain.

Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sectorRole of fisheries in the national economyThe fisheries sector contributes significantly to Ghana’s economy in terms of food security, employment, poverty alleviation, GDP and foreign exchange revenues. The contribution of Ghana’s fisheries sector is important, amounting to 4.5 percent of the GDP, 12 percent of the agricultural GDP and 10 percent of the labor force.

The sector also supports the livelihoods of 10 percent of Ghana’s population of about 26 million people. Also, worthy of mention is the sector’s gender balance. While men are involved in fishing proper in the artisanal, semi-industrial and industrial sectors, women engage in onshore postharvest activities, undertaking fish processing, storage and distribution, even onto external markets.

TradeLocal demand outstrips production, giving rise to a national fish deficit.

Fish and fish products are Ghana’s most important non-traditional export commodities, accounting for over 50 percent of revenue from non-traditional export. Smoked fish, sundried fish, salted fish and live ornamental species exports originate from inland fisheries. Lobsters from the artisanal fleet, and many other species from the semi-industrial and industrial subsectors, including the shrimp and tuna fleets, are exported from the marine sector.

The export destination of Ghana’s fish and fishery products is mainly EU countries, including Spain, Portugal and Greece, and USA and Japan. Fish exports from Ghana consist of high value tuna (whole, loins and canned), frozen fish (mostly demersal species), shrimps, lobsters, cuttlefish and dried and smoked fish. The Fisheries Act 625 of 2004 provides that at least 10% of tuna landings are sold in Ghana.

The majority of Ghana’s exported fish is frozen tuna sent to Spain and Cote d’Ivoire. Various demersal species are also targeted for export to Japan, and some cuttlefish, crabs and lobsters are exported to China. Tuna sales alone account for 14 percent of non-traditional exports (NTEs) from Ghana and are the single largest contributor after horticulture.

Some of the fish originating from Ghana’s waters are exported to Togo, Benin and Nigeria. Nigeria and the United States of America are two important export markets for Ghanaian fish, especially for farm-harvested fish from Ashanti Region.Fish imports to Ghana are brought through the ports of Tema and Takoradi, and are distributed through the domestic trade channels. These imports are high during the local fish lean period of November – May, and are composed mainly of frozen horse mackerel, chub mackerel, yellowfin tuna and sardinella. The five top sources of fish imports to Ghana are Mauritania (20%), UK (14%), Poland (8%) and the Netherlands (6%). Other sources are Morocco, Norway, Belgium, Senegal, Namibia, the Gambia and Spain.

The imports and exports of fish are regulated and require a permit from the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MOFAD). Imports of aquaculture fish, however, are prohibited in order to encourage local production. Fish imports are high between the lean local fish season of November-May, but decrease during the fish boom period of July – September.

Fish imports reached US$ 108 million in 2010, while fish exports earned US$ 65 million within the same period. The resulting USD 43 million trade deficit gave rise to the Ghanaian Government’s strategy to accelerate aquaculture development to close the gap between fish demand and supply. Also, the government's approach toward responsible fishery practices, sustainable management of the resources and development of value-added fish and fishery products is aimed at improving both quality and quantity of fishery outputs.

Food securityFish is the most important source of animal protein and is consumed in all regions of Ghana, by both the poor and the rich, and in both rural and urban areas, providing Ghanaians with up to 60 percent of their animal protein requirements.

Different fish products, made of different species, are readily available to the Ghanaian consumer nationwide. For local consumption, fish is available in many forms, including fresh, smoke-salted, dried, salted and dried, canned, fried or grilled.Ghana’s per capita fish consumption has fluctuated over the years, being lowest in 1882 at 20.3 kg and highest in 1997 at 34.2 kg, with the mean consumption between 1980 and 2011 being 26.28 kg per capita per annum. This, when compared with the world’s mean per capita consumption of 14.90 kg and Africa’s mean consumption of 8.33 kg within the same period, shows Ghana’s consumption being higher than both the world’s and Africa’s mean consumption with 11.38 kg and 17.95 kg respectively. Ghana’s current per capita fish consumption stands at 28 kg, higher than Africa’s current 10.5 kg and the world’s current 18.9 kg.

About 75 percent of Ghana’s total domestic fish production is consumed domestically. And, other than for human consumption, some fish such as anchovy are used for fishmeal. Further, fish constitutes 22.4 percent of total food expenditure in all Ghanaian households and 25.7 percent in poor households.Ghana’s fish consumption requirement is about 720 000 metric tonnes. Its annual fish supply stands at 400 000 tonnes. Ghana, thus, has an annual deficit of up to 320 000 metric tonnes of fish and fishery products.

EmploymentOver 135 000 fishers are directly employed in Ghana’s marine capture fisheries and about 2.6 million people rely on them, including spouses, children, close relatives as well as canoe carvers, input suppliers and office workers for industrial fishing fleets. Fish workers engaged in processing and distribution alone are estimated to be around 500 000 individuals. Artisanal marine fishers alone number about 120 000. Around 300 000 individuals directly depend on Lake Volta for their livelihood, out of which number 80 000 are fishers and the rest are fish processors, traders, etcetera.Apart from the main activity of fishing, the postharvest sector provides a wide variety of livelihood activities. Such opportunities range from full-time employment to seasonal, occasional involvement in different stages of the postharvest chain. These include Ghanaians involved in processing and trading, those who pack, store, load, unload and transport fresh and processed fish and fish products, Ghanaians providing transport and storage services, export processors, cannery workers, fishmeal producers and their staff, etcetera.

Rural developmentThe significance of the fisheries sector to Ghana’s economy is evident in key economic indices such as employment, livelihood support, poverty reduction and food security, particularly in rural fishing communities. The sector is very important from a gender perspective, since it provides employment to a large group of women as well as men.

In addition to the main activity of fishing, other opportunities for value-addition that create employment, generate income and contribute towards Ghana’s rural development, include fish processing, such as frying, salting and smoking.

Over 2 million Ghanaians are dependent on the fisheries sector for their livelihoods including some 135 000 fishers in the marine sector alone, of which 124 000 (or 92%) are artisanal fishers. Lake Volta provides livelihood for about 300 000 inhabitants in the riparian area.

Trends, issues and developmentConstraints and opportunitiesGhana’s fish stocks, both marine and freshwater, have been dwindling over the years. The problems of the fisheries sector are varied, and range from insufficient infrastructure such as modern landing sites, leading to high postharvest losses; inappropriate and technologically-limited fishing craft and gear; inadequate fish processing and storage facilities; inadequate aquaculture infrastructure; poor enforcement of the regulatory framework; and insufficient monitoring and surveillance of Ghana’s waters.Persistent decline in capture fisheries in Ghana results in diminishing economic returns to fishers. As a provision of a palliative measure by transferring liability of damage of working tools and payment of compensation in the event of accidents from the public sector, Ghana’s Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development has initiated the process to implement Fishermen Life Insurance Scheme (FLIS). The scheme is further expected to provide an avenue for capital accumulation in the event that no disaster occurs, and will be paid to fishers in the course of their lives.Ghana’s dwindling fisheries sector is not an isolated case, and should be viewed in the context of the general fisheries decline occurring throughout the West African sub-region resulting from factors such as overfishing, habitat degradation and fishing access agreements that are often skewed against West African States. In addition, foreign fishing vessels often intrude into, and illegally exploit the fishery resources of, the West African nations’ Exclusive Economic Zones as a result of poor monitoring, control and surveillance capacity. The entire West African sub-region, particularly the Gulf of Guinea on which Ghana’s coastline is located, is an endemic illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing area. The prevalence of IUU fishing in the sub-region constrains international trade and undermines fisheries management. In order to check and forestall IUU fishing, however, the Government of Ghana has put in place various measures, including monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) procedures within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).Subsistence and artisanal fisheries still account for a large share of Ghana’s fish output, as fishing technology currently in use is not apace with advances in major fishing nations of the world.Other challenges occasioned, at both institutional and enterprise levels, on Ghana’s fisheries and aquaculture include:
  • Inadequate enforcement of fisheries and aquaculture regulations
  • Poor coordination among multiple stakeholders
  • Inadequate control on fish farming zones
  • Difficulties with access to land
  • Poor control of discharges into water bodies
  • Poor access to financial credit, especially by small-and medium-scale farmers
  • High cost of supplementary fish feed
  • High cost and shortage of quality fish seed
  • Lack of technical expertise and experience, and
  • Unavailability of skilled workforce.

Ghana has a range of intervention mechanisms in place to handle the constraints facing its fisheries. Ghana’s current fisheries legislations have provisions to address most of the factors that have given rise to a diminishing fisheries sector. Also, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development is vigorously pursuing and intensifying promotion of aquaculture as an alternative means of meeting the shortfall in fish production. The government has introduced an input credit system under which fish seed are produced and supplied on loan to fish farmers.An improved enforcement of relevant laws and regulations will result in orderly and speedy growth of fisheries and aquaculture. Also, a better collaboration among relevant stakeholders, including particularly government institutions, will enhance overall performance of the industry.

The creation of a separate ministry, dedicated to fisheries and aquaculture, by the Government of Ghana has greatly lent support to the industry and could boost national fish output growth.

Modernization of the fishing industry, particularly the craft and gear, will go a long way towards improving fish production levels. Also, improvements in tuna fishing, processing and value-addition can generate additional employment and foreign exchange earnings for the Ghanaian economy.

Despite significant growth in recent years, the tuna fishery still has much room for expansion. The maximum sustainable catch of tuna in Ghana’s EEZ is between 90 000 to 100 000 tonnes per year, but only about 36 000 is currently captured each year, leaving a minimum annual uncaught volume of 54 000 tonnes.

Ghana could be a major player in global fisheries if more attention were paid to the fisheries sector, especially in the areas of modern fishing technology and aquaculture techniques. With production from both marine and inland sources (save tuna) appearing to have reached their maximum potential, fish farming has become a credible option for increasing fish production in Ghana. Ghana can achieve its desired fish production targets both for domestic consumption and export with the application of modern aquaculture techniques.

Government and non-government sector policies and development strategiesGhana’s Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MOFAD) was established in the early part of 2013 to accelerate the development of the fisheries sector. MOFAD exists to promote the sustainable management of the fisheries sector through scientific innovations and policy guidelines for the enhancement of institutional capacity for efficient service delivery, and organic collaboration with stakeholders in the fisheries sector.For the effective management of Ghana’s fisheries resources and efficient regulation of the sector, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development is driven by the following policy objectives:

  • Ensuring sustainable exploitation and utilization of fisheries resources;
  • Combating illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing;
  • Reducing post-harvest losses and promoting value addition;
  • Developing fisheries infrastructure to modernize the sector;
  • Promoting Aquaculture Development; and
  • Promoting International Co-operation for improved fisheries management in the sub-region.

MOFAD’s vision is, ‘To promote Accelerated Development of the Fisheries Sector to contribute to National Development through sustainable management of aquatic resources, scientific research, enforcement of fisheries laws and regulations and development of aquaculture’.And MOFAD’s Mandate is to:

  • Initiate and formulate policies for the regulation, management and development of the fisheries sector
  • Undertake development planning for the fisheries sector in consultation with the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC)
  • Develop aquaculture
  • Enforcement of fisheries laws and regulations
  • Promote sub-regional, regional and international cooperation
  • Coordinate all interventions relating to the development of the fisheries sector

Ghana’s new National Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy provides an important base for a National Plan of Action towards combatting Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing. Ghana has adopted the FAO IPOA-IUU as an invaluable ‘toolbox’ in their fight against IUU fishing.

Research, education and trainingResearchThe Water Research Institute (WRI), under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), is responsible for fisheries and aquaculture research in Ghana. Both institutions are funded by the Government. The CSIR is an umbrella organization that supervises all research organizations in Ghana. WRI specifically operates the Aquaculture Research and Development Centre in Akosombo on Lake Volta, from where it carries out research and development activities related to aquaculture production systems, and provides a range of technical support to the aquaculture sector, including sale of fish seed to farmers. The WRI’s genetic improvement programme, in collaboration with WorldFish, has led to the development of the “Akosombo strain” of fish, which grows 30 percent faster than the indigenous Nile tilapia strain.

Ghana’s Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development also conducts research in fisheries through its Marine Fisheries Research Division. In addition, some Ghanaian universities carry out research on fisheries and aquaculture.

Education and trainingThe following is a table listing some universities and a technical college which offer training in fisheries and aquaculture in Ghana.

Institution Degrees Awarded

Dept. of Fisheries & Watershed Management,

Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources,

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)

Ph. D.; M.Sc.; B.Sc.

Fisheries & Watershed Management

Department of Marine and Fisheries Sciences

(Formerly Department of Fisheries and Oceanography)

University of Ghana (UG)

Ph. D; M. Phil.; B. Sc.

Oceanography and Fisheries

Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, University of Cape Coast (UCC)

Ph. D., M. Phil., B.Sc.

Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences

Kwadaso Agricultural College Agricultural Certificate

Department of Fisheries and Water Resources,

University of Energy and Natural Resources

B.Sc. Fisheries and Aquaculture
Table 6 – Ghana – Institutions associated with training in fisheries and aquaculture With a view to facilitating the production of technicians and improving the skills and knowledge of major stakeholders in fisheries and aquaculture, the Government of Ghana is currently in the process of establishing a fisheries college at Anomabo, which is affiliated to the University of Cape Coast.

Foreign aidThe Government of Ghana has in force a USD 500 000 technical cooperation agreement with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to strengthen routine fisheries data collection in the West Africa sub-region. The pact also aims to support the efforts of fisheries committees of the West, Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) to enhance evidence-based decision making in the management, planning and development of the fisheries sector through a reliable statistical information system. The initiative would further produce fisheries and resource monitoring system inventories and analyze existing data collection systems for marine industrial and artisanal catches.

The World Bank International Development Association (IDA) and Global Environment Facility (GEF) Trust Fund have funded the Ghana West Africa Regional Fisheries Programme (WARFP) with a total of USD 53.8 million (USD 50.3 million credit from IDA and USD 3.5 million grant from GEF) for a 5-year project between 2012 and 2017.

Institutional frameworkThe Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development is Ghana Government’s responsible organ for fisheries resource development and issues relating to the fisheries industry.

The Fisheries Commission, formed in 1993, is the lead institution for the promotion and development of fisheries and aquaculture in Ghana and is under the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development. The objective of the Commission is to regulate and manage the utilization of the fishery resources of Ghana and co-ordinate the policies in relation to them. While the Commission advises the Minister on issues related to sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources, the Ministry is the agency responsible for implementing government’s policies on fisheries sector matters. There are Fisheries Commission offices in all 10 regions of Ghana, as well as at regional and district levels from where free extension services on fisheries and aquaculture can be obtained.

The Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance (MCS) Department of the Fisheries Commission is charged with combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Source: Republic of Ghana (2015). Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MOFAD) Structure. http://www.mofad.gov.gh/?q=content/ministry-fisheries-and-aquaculture-development-mofad-structure#overlay-context=content/ministry-fisheries-and-aquaculture-development-mofad-structure%3Fq%3Dcontent/ministry-fisheries-and-aquaculture-development-mofad-str

Title: Figure 13 – Ghana – Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MOFAD) Organogram

Legal frameworkRegional and international legal frameworkGhana is a member of the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU), and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), amongst other bodies. It is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and is Party to the Ministerial Conference on Fisheries Cooperation among African States Bordering the Atlantic Ocean (ATLAFCO), and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT), amongst others.Ghana is also a founding member-country of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and, as a result, its participation in international fish trade is regulated by WTO trade agreements. The Government also implements the West Africa Regional Fisheries Program Project (WARFP). In addition, Ghana is a member and host of the Fisheries Committee for West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWCGG), and is Party to environment-related international agreements on Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, and Wetlands.

Ghana’s legal framework has evolved over the years. The legislation currently governing Ghana’s fisheries and aquaculture is the Fisheries Act, 2002 (Act 625) as amended by the Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 2014, Act 880.

Ghana also has the Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy (2008) and the Fisheries Regulations 2010 (L. I.1968), which give effect to, strengthen and enhance the effective implementation of the Act, and serve as a basis for the development of the fisheries sector. Ghana has a defined coastal and marine zone which includes the 200-nautical mile limit, claimed in 1977 (Territorial Waters and Continental Shelf Act 1973 as amended by the Territorial Waters and Continental Shelf Amendment Decree 1977).

In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency Act of 1994 seeks to ensure that aquaculture projects do not damage the environment. The Environmental Assessment Regulations of 1999 require both land-based and cage aquaculture activities to undergo environmental impact assessments.

Regional and international legal frameworkGhana adopted the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982, and is a contracting Party to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) treaty.



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