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Akufo-Addo to OACPS: Deal with existential threats to oceans

The president said it is sad this God-given asset faces an existential threat largely from pollution and over exploration

President Akufo-Addo has called on Ministers in Charge of Fisheries and Agriculture under the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), to as a matter of urgency, propose implementable policies that will help member states to deal with all existential threats to the oceans of the world.

According to President Akufo-Addo, “the health of our planet and the health of our peoples are inextricably linked to the health of our oceans” and it is for that reason that the preservation of the oceans ought to be a priority to OACPS member states.

Addressing the official opening of the seventh meeting of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) Ministers in charge of Fisheries and Agriculture at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) today 7 April 2022, on the theme; “OACPS Blue Economy Agenda 2030 – Catalyzing the Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Development for the Future”, President Akufo-Addo said, “70% of our earth surface is covered by oceans which accounts for the very origins of life as we know it.”

The world’s oceans he indicated, “provide food and sustenance, mineral resources, energy, employment and livelihoods, transport and recreation”.

“Acting as the lungs of the planet, oceans are responsible for some 50% of the oxygen produced on the planet and absorb 25% of carbon dioxide emissions resulting from human activity,” President Akufo-Addo said.

“Sadly, this God-given asset faces an existential threat largely from pollution and over exploration” he added.

Decisive actions

To this end, President Akufo-Addo observed that there is a “need to take decisive actions now to safeguard the oceans capacity to regenerate and to continue to deliver substantial economic, environmental and social value for human development.”

“This meeting should thus enhance coordination and cooperation in the collective management and development of the fisheries, and aquaculture sectors of member states. It should provide the platform for sustainable management of fisheries resources, obtaining optimum returns from fisheries trade, supporting the development of aquaculture, enhancing food security and preserving the environment” the President further stated.

Ghana’s ocean preservation efforts

Ghana according to the President, has begun the execution of specific measures to ensure that the oceans are preserved.

He noted that Ghana is “implementing a national plan of action to help curb the menace of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.”

“Components of this plan include fish cut certification, reactivation and installation of vessel monitoring systems, automotive identification systems on vessels, port and brach inspections and sea patrols and we support the principle of a global convention in this area,” President Akufo-Addo said.

Regional and continental measures

At the ECOWAS regional level, the President said “without neighbours, the Republics of Togo and Benin, a pact has been signed to implement a joint fisheries observer program as part of efforts to ensure that safe, secure and legal fisheries are maintained across the Gulf of Guinea”.

“At the continental, we are in the process of ratifying the 2012 Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety and I am expectant that Ghana will shortly deposit her instrument of assertion,” the president said.

Secretary-general of OACPS

Secretary-general of OACPS, George Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, in his statement indicated that the 7th OACPS meeting is taking place at a critical time for ocean life preservation as a result of climate change and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He urged all participants of the four-day ministerial meeting to do all within their ability to develop strong policies that will help preserve the blue economy.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a sign on the fishing industry. The measures taken to contain the virus spread caused significant disruptions in fisheries activities resulting in lost business opportunities and declining revenues” Pinto Chikoti said.

“As we build back, we must ensure the sector is more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive to meet the needs of our peoples now and in the future” he added.

The OACPS

The Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) is an organization created by the George Town Agreement in 1975 comprising 79 States from three Regional Blocs namely Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Formerly known as the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), the organization’s main objectives are sustainable development and poverty reduction within its member states, as well as, their greater integration into the world’s economy.

The African OACP member States negotiate in five Economic Partnership Agreement Groups namely the West Africa Group (ECOWAS), the East African Community (EAC), the Eastern and Sothern Africa (COMESA), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Ghana is a member of the West Africa Group.

The seventh meeting

The seventh meeting hosted by Ghana is for the OACPS Ministerial Fisheries Mechanism, i.e. the Ministers in charge of fisheries and aquaculture.

There are other OACPS Ministerial meetings such as that of Trade, Culture, etc., and even that of Heads of State.

The meeting of Ministers in Charge of Fisheries and Aquaculture started in 2009 and is repeated every two years to enhance coordination and cooperation in the management and sustainable development of the fisheries and aquaculture sector and to reinforce their collective interests.

Wilberforce Asare

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