Managing conflicts in the marine fisheries sectors in Ghana
Marine fisheries are found to play an important role in the provision of food, employment and income generation in Ghana. Data from national fisheries data systems and information from fishers are analyzed, which indicate that fish catches have declined in the last two decades due to overfishing. Current fisheries management systems have not been effective in controlling fishing effort, and the scarcity of fish has resulted in competition in fishing which creates different types of conflicts in the fisheries. Research on conflicts in marine fisheries was conducted through conversations with fishers and other stakeholders, direct observation, review of secondary data, and analysis of fish catch and effort data. It found types of conflicts in marine fisheries at different levels, causes of the conflicts and existing management mechanisms were analyzed and more effective measures recommended for managing the conflicts. Some of the conflicts in the fisheries include gear, spatial, resource competition, signaling and navigation conflicts. Fishing also competes with offshore oil and gas production activities which also create conflicts. These conflicts threaten the long-term sustainability and short-term economic feasibility of the fisheries and food security which justifies the need for research and improved management. It is concluded that improving management systems for fisheries, effective enforcement of fisheries law and regulations, strengthening of fisheries arbitration systems, collaborative management of fisheries, communication among ocean governance agencies and the creation of a comprehensive ocean governance framework are critical in managing marine fisheries conflicts in Ghana. It is recommended as a matter of policy that open access canoe fisheries must be restricted, distribution and sale of pre-mix fuel must be depoliticized with the subsidy on the commodity incrementally removed, fisheries arbitration must be strengthened, legal and regulatory frameworks for ocean activities including fisheries and oil and gas operations harmonized and enhanced, and a comprehensive ocean policy framework developed for Ghana.