Fishing on the verge of collapse because of overexploitation

Professor Wisdom Akpalu calls for urgent measures to save the situation and safeguard a sustainable income for artisanal fisherfolk

Ghana News Agency (Accra) – The fishing industry is on the verge of collapse because of overexploitation by artisanal fishermen and through industrial trawler activities, Professor Wisdom Akpalu, the dean of the School of Research and Graduate Studies at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), has said.

He said the fishing industry contributes substantially to the Ghanaian economy, which employs roughly three million people and sustains livelihoods, Hence the need for urgent measures to avoid ecological collapse and safeguard sustainable income for artisanal fisherfolk and the entire value chain.

Professor Akpalu was speaking in Accra during a presentation of research findings on measures to spur economic growth across all sectors of the economy to an eminent panel, which will rank all interventions and establish priorities for a prosperous future under the “Ghana Priorities” project.

The project is an initiative being spearheaded by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) in collaboration with the Copenhagen Consensus Centre, an award-winning international think tank.

Call for interventions

Professor Akpalu proposed three policy interventions: replacing illegal fishing nets, reducing the national fleet of over 13,000 canoes to 9,000, and providing entrepreneurial skills training and subsidies to fishermen who would otherwise lose their source of livelihood so they venture into fish farming.

He also called for the installation of video devices on trawler vessels to monitor harmful illegal fishing practices.

Professor Akpalu said he is optimistic these interventions will produce positive returns on investment and improve livelihoods.

The Ghana Priorities project seeks to place a premium on the best policies for the country’s future, on the basis of a cost-benefit analysis.

With regard to measures to promote industrial transformation, Professor Peter Quartey, the director of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana, outlined certain key interventions to boost industrial growth.

He said the government and donor agencies need to support management consulting services which could significantly improve factory operations and processes in areas such as quality control, human resources, inventory and sales.

He noted that every cedi spent on improving management practices would bring a return six times higher than the original investment for large enterprises, and almost ten times higher for medium-sized companies.

Professor Quartey called for access to credit by medium-sized enterprises, adding; “Financing for businesses and companies could be promoted in Ghana by ensuring better surveillance of the credit referencing system, better address systems, improving the quality of information available to lenders and enforcing a reward and sanctions regime.

“These measures would create nearly GHC12 worth of benefits to society for every cedi spent,” Professor Quartey said.

It is estimated that providing capital grants to selected microenterprises will generate benefit seven times higher than the original investment, he said.

Find your learning level

Professor Robert Darko Osei, vice-dean of the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Ghana, noted how significant a contributor to the economy agriculture is. It is also an important source of employment, he said, with over 40% of the working population engaged in farming.

Despite growth and development dynamics, which are producing a gradual shift away from the agricultural sector towards industry and services, agriculture still forms a crucial part of the Ghanaian economy, as well as a necessary vehicle for poverty alleviation and ensuring food security.

Professor Osei said Ghana could achieve increasing agricultural output by means of three main mechanisms: increasing the area of arable land under cultivation, improving crop yield, and reducing post-harvest losses.

Dr Festus Ebo Turkson and Dr Priscilla Twumasi Baffour, both lecturers at the University of Ghana, introduced the pedagogical approach of “Teaching at the Right Level”, which targets instruction to the specific learning needs of children by splitting them into class groups based on learning levels, rather than age, for one or two hours per day.

They said the better learning outcomes resulting from this approach would be worth 1.5% of earnings over students’ lives, with every cedi spent generating social benefits worth GHC8.

The research team which studied the cost/benefit indicators of using improved/certified seed and fertilisers, irrigation and mechanisation to increase yield, and expanding warehousing capacity to reduce post-harvest losses recommended that subsidising fertiliser would benefit the nation four times the initial cost.

After hearing presentations from the 28 teams of economists from Ghana and abroad over the course of three days, the eminent panel, including the Nobel Prize-winner Finn Kydland (in economics, 2004) and six distinguished national economists, will rank all interventions and establish priorities for a prosperous future.

* Asaase Radio 99.5 – tune in or log on to broadcasts online.

Ghana News Agency
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