The Law of The Sea: Impacts On The Conservation And Management Of Fisheries Resources Of Developing Coastal States – The Ghana Case Study
During the early 1950s through to the late 1970s, Ghana was noted as a leading fishing nation in the West African sub-region, with her fishing fleets ranging as far as the coasts of Angola and Mauritania. Hence Ghana depends quite heavily on her coastal resources for food, human settlements and numerous other benefits. In fact the fisheries sector is known to provide a livelihood for aver 2 million Ghanaians living along the 538km stretch of Ghana’s coastline and further inland. There is currently a serious scarcity of fisheries resources, disputes over jurisdiction, inadequate conservation and management measures and a high influx of foreign fishing vessels in Ghanaian fishery waters, impacting heavily on the country’s ability to meet domestic demand, threatening fish food security and the livelihood of many Ghanaians, as well as the country’s economy. Thus, this research set out to examine the policies adopted by the Ghanaian fisheries administrators before and after the inception of the first Ministry of Fisheries with the objective of identifying the shortfalls that have led to the current state of fisheries in the country and suggesting solutions to them. An examination of Ghanaian fisheries laws (using the periods before and after Ghana’s ratification of UNCLOS as a reference point) revealed that there has been no comprehensive fisheries policy for the management of the sector to date, except one, which is currently in the development stages. This draft policy seems to provide a potentially sound framework though it exhibits shortcomings that include lack of time frames for achieving, and prioritization of policy objectives. Using some factors contributing to the current poor condition of the fisheries sector as a backdrop, it was recommended that prioritizing and time-framing policy objectives, as well as consideration of other factors stemming from funding, will contribute immensely towards developing a strong fisheries policy.