An investigation of fish catch data and its implications for management of small-scale fisheries of Ghana
Most statistical information on fish catch in Ghana and that of many other African countries are deficient in supporting effective fisheries management. Fish catches were examined between January 2009 and December 2010, to enhance the management of small-scale fisheries of Ghana. The methods employed were: Fish Catch Assessment (FCA) and documents analyses. The case study focused on four important fishing communities, namely: Elmina and Ahwiam (coastal communities); and Kpong and Small London (inland communities). The results provide evidence from empirical data to confirm observed declining Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE) and therefore declining fish abundance in Ghanaian water, both freshwater and marine. The average CPUE (kg/canoe/day) for 2009/2010 were: 22.72, 10.57, 44.28 and 133.81 for Small London, Kpong, Ahwiam and Elmina, respectively. There were significant differences in CPUE among habitats and sites (p<0.05). Annual fish catch estimated from CPUE data were as follows: freshwater habitats Small London (716.04 tons) and Kpong (186.68 tons); marine habitats Elmina (4716.80 tons) and Ahwiam (630.99 tons). A total of 21 and 18 fish species were identified at Kpong and Small London, respectively. Furthermore, a total of 71 and 79 fish species were identified at Ahwiam and Elmina, respectively. For management and sustainability of fishery resources in relation to the small-scale fisheries of Ghana and the sub-region as a whole, it is recommended that fishery managers, policy makers and all relevant stakeholders assiduously work together to reverse declining CPUE by reducing fishing effort and encourage income diversification and wealth creation.