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Nansen supporting countries to refocus management of fishery resources

New EAF-Nansen research campaign ship dock in Ghana

For the second time in two years, the research vessel Dr Fridtjof Nansen, docked in Tema, Ghana, for the country to benefit from the Nansen Programme which enables the fisheries research institutions and management agencies of participating countries to receive technical and scientific support and refocus the management of their fisheries through the adoption and implementation of an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF).

Speaking at the Port Call of the new Dr Fridtjof Nansen Research Vessel, President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, commended FAO for its decades of close collaboration with various partners, including the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research (IMR) and the Nansen Programme, to implement projects that have contributed to the improvement of fisheries management through the ecosystem approach.

These projects have been useful, resulting in changes in water masses and fish behavior, yet “Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) methods are depleting our fish stocks. Our beautiful coastal wetlands are threatened by high volumes of plastic and metal waste that choke breeding habitats for fish, this must not be allowed to continue”, pointed the Ghanaian Head of state also co-Chair of the Advocacy Group of Eminent Persons for the UN SDGs.

“I am particularly determined to ensure that Ghana implements SDG 14 by eliminating pollution on Ghana’s coast, and significantly reducing pollution in the marine ecosystem by 2025, by tackling the current challenges posed by use of plastics and indiscriminate disposal of waste. Ghana’s ambition is to complete the assessment of ecologically sensitive areas along the Ghana coast, and declare Ghana’s first marine protected area by 2025, to safeguard coastal and marine biodiversity”.

FAO Representative to Ghana, Abebe Haile-Gabriel, on behalf of the Organization, highlighted evidence-based policy, planning and capacity development as central to  the  EAF-Nansen Programme, providing young national scientists and technicians of Africa with valuable experience in data collection and other sampling methods, of which the results have been used to formulate regulatory and fisheries management policies.

More than 250 researchers, at various times aboard the research vessel Dr Fridtjof Nansen, have benefited from a capacity building programme of the EAF-Nansen project which began in 2007.

FAO has teamed up with the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), and the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research (IMR) to enable 31 African countries to receive technical and scientific support from the programme to refocus the management of their fisheries.

Gunnar Andreas Holm, Norway Ambassador to Ghana, present in Tema, underlined the significance of research and scientific data for  efficient fish management and the development of ecosystem approach to the sustainability of the marine resources.

He expressed optimism that the research findings of the new Dr Fridtjof Nansen Research Vessel will provide sufficient data to assist Ghana to develop policies that will ensure the management of fish and other stocks and enhance the knowledge on marine ecosystems.

The Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management

The Norwegian Government has been supporting the Nansen Program since the early 1970s. On 24 March 2017, the new EAF-Nansen Programme "Support for the application of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management, taking into account climate impact and pollution" started with a new research vessel that is at the forefront of technology.

The new EAF-Nansen Programme aims at consolidating the results of the previous phase and also addressing the multiple impacts of human activities, including overfishing, climate change and pollution on fish stocks in particular and the marine environment in general in order to preserve the productivity of the oceans for the benefit of future generations.

The first research campaign (survey) of the new ship started on 8 May 2017 in Morocco and is expected to end in December 2017 in Cape-Town, South Africa, after stopovers in Pointe-Noire, Congo; Luanda, Angola, and Walvis Bay, Namibia. This new and impressive ship brings important innovations and technological capabilities necessary to improve scientific research in support to fisheries management.