Achieving sustainable fisheries management: A critical look at traditional fisheries management in the marine artisanal fisheries of Ghana, West Africa
Sustaining ﬁshery resources is crucial to the survival and wealth of artisanal ﬁshers in Ghana. The artisanal ﬁsheries sector of Ghana provides food, employment, livelihood support and socio-economic beneﬁts to the Ghanaian economy. Fishery resources of Ghana are under stress from population pressure, increasing demand of ﬁsh and ﬁshery products and open-access regime. Formal ﬁsheries management practices have not yielded the desired results. There is an increasing need for traditional ﬁsheries practices to be incorporated into formal ﬁsheries management practices. The aim of this paper is to conduct an in-depth study on traditional marine ﬁsheries management systems in Ghana in order to provide information to enhance the management of the artisanal ﬁsheries. Data was collected through document analysis (between May 2014 and January 2015), ﬁeld observation and questionnaire-based interview (between 26th and 30th of July 2014). Results show that the Chief Fisherman and Community Based Fisheries Management Committee are important structures in the ﬁsheries management system of Ghana. The Chief Fisherman is the person that leads resolution of disputes and gives access to ﬁshing in the communities. There are a number of measures such as non-ﬁshing days, ban on landing certain ﬁsh species during festival periods to prevent overﬁshing. Taboos and cultural practices such as performing of rituals to ‘sea gods’ and consulting of oracles during certain periods of the year help to manage the ﬁsh stocks. With respect to the performance of the ﬁshing communities, Elmina performed better with combination of various traditional practices to prevent overﬁshing. Fishers in Elmina also had adequate knowledge of current ﬁshing rules and regulations than ﬁshers in Adina, Chorkor and Dixcove. Fishers and ﬁshing communities must be educated on the need to avoid unapproved ﬁshing practices to help keep the ﬁshery resources healthy for sustainable exploitation. Fishers should also be equipped with alternative livelihood jobs in order to reduce the pressure on the ﬁshery resources. A national policy to integrate traditional management practices into formal ﬁsheries management plans should be established.