Common Oceans - A partnership for sustainability in the ABNJ

Electronic Monitoring of Fishing Activities in Ghana - Completing a Success Story

13 February 2019

23 January 2019 | Accra, Ghana. The Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project's electronic monitoring pilot in Ghana has come to an end. At a ceremony organized by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development of the Republic of Ghana, representatives from the partners involved in the activity - the Government of Ghana, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) and the Ghana Tuna Association (GTA) - and other stakeholders, met to celebrate the results achieved, and to complete the transfer of equipment provided by the Project to the Ghanaian authorities.

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Participants at the closing ceremony in Accra, Ghana © WWF/Kyle LaFerriere Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Ghana, Mr. Francis K. E. Ato
Codjoe and FAO's Regional Representative Mr. Haile-Gabriel Abebe, shaking
hands after having signed the transfer of equipment agreement
© WWF/Kyle LaFerriere

This pilot was aimed at developing an effective implementation process at the national level, so that information generated by the new Electronic Monitoring Systems (EMS) is properly utilized for compliance purposes. Activities started in October 2015, with the installation of equipment aboard five tuna purse seine vessels to observe individual vessel operations at sea. In addition, a unit of land-based observers was established to review the image data collected. Over the following three years, the entire domestic fleet of 14 vessels was equipped with systems capable of recording operations both above and below deck, at all hours of the day. The team of land-based observers were trained to analyze the footage and data to provide estimates of the catch, bycatch and discards by species, as well as to identify any potential infractions happening on board of the vessels.

By December 2018, 163 fishing trips had been monitored, out of which 154 trips were reviewed by the team of land-based observers. The results showed that EMS offered significant benefits to the Ghanaian tuna purse seine fisheries sector. Not only has it successfully complemented existing at-sea observer data collecting efforts, but it has also contributed with the transparency needed to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing with independently verifiable compliance data.

Lauren Spurrier, Managing Director for Oceans at WWF, said: "Five years ago, Ghana was facing the challenges of a Yellow Card, threatening to impact the hugely important tuna sector and all of the livelihoods that depend upon tuna fisheries. Ghana has now improved transparency in its purse seine fishery, and is a leading example globally". 

The other stakeholders in Ghana, both Government and industry representatives, agreed. "Its benefits have been of immense importance to fisheries in Ghana: EMS has enhanced monitoring, control and surveillance capabilities within the Fisheries Commission, and has ensured the access of our products to the international market", said the Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mr. Francis K. E. Ato Codjoe.

The future use of electronic monitoring in the tuna purse seine fleet in Ghana is now planned to continue with the support of the key stakeholders and the Government initiative. Next on the agenda for the Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project is to finalize a similar EMS pilot in Fiji, where EMS has been installed on 48 vessels in the Fijian longline fleet. 

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Richard Ahene Niunoo (Acting Second Officer) showing the camera used for EM on a tuna
purse seine vessel in the Ghanaian fleet © WWF/Kyle LaFerriere
Tuna offloading in Tema Port, Ghana © WWF/Kyle LaFerriere

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is a serious threat to sustainable fisheries, marine ecosystems and the livelihoods of legitimate fishers globally. To address this threat, the Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project has been exploring new ways to strengthen and harmonize the use of monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) tools in tuna fisheries. Learn more about this activity and the recommendations made by the Common Oceans ABNJ Project, WWF and ISSF, in terms of legislative changes and institutional arrangements needed to continue utilizing EMS as an enforcement tool, here:

For further information, please contact:

World Wide Fund For Nature
International Seafood Sustainability Foundation