Western Region Fisheries Sector Review
This report was prepared by the WorldFish Center as part of the Integrated Coastal and Fisheries Governance Initiative, led by the Coastal Resources Center of the University of Rhode Island, and aims to provide an overview of the current status and recent history of coastal fisheries in the Western Region of Ghana. Fish catches in the Western Region and all along the Ghanaian coast have begun to fall, even as the number of vessels active in the fishery continues to increase. While boat numbers are higher than ever, this doesn’t tell the full story – effort has increased even more sharply with the introduction of technologies such as light fishing, mobile phones, and increasingly powerful outboard motors. This increase in effort over time is not captured in fisheries data, and the actual situation is likely to be far more dire than official figures suggest. The uncontrolled depletion of fisheries resources we are currently witnessing is at least partially due to the difficulties in managing the fishery. Though fisheries management has taken on several forms of the years, attempts at limiting access or reducing effort have seen little success, and there are serious geographical, legal, political, and institutional challenges to effective management. Fish capture, processing, marketing and associated services constitute a significant source of livelihood in Ghana, with one fishing job creating as many as seven additional livelihoods. Most of the Western Region catch enters the processed (smoked) fish marketing chain, and as elsewhere in Ghana, women are dominant in traditional fish processing and trade. In addition to stakeholders directly involved in fishing, fisheries management, and support sectors at different scales, there are a large number of individuals and organizations involved in governance structures and/or livelihoods strategies that link to the fishery. Coastal fisheries tend to be extremely complex to manage due to the number and variety of stakeholder groups involved, and the Western Region marine fishery is no exception. Key actors in fishing-related governance structures are traditional authorities, including chiefs, chief fishermen, chief fishmongers, and councils of elders; the Government of Ghana; and donors involved in fisheries issues. The Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector Development Plan (2010-2015), developed by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in consultation with in- country stakeholders and the World Bank, provides the main framework for fisheries development. It is clear that if the fishery is to be able to continue to play a central role as a major source of livelihoods and key driver of the economy in the coastal zone of the Western Region, its ability to absorb shocks and adapt to change will be critical. Any attempt to promote fisheries development and fisheries management reform in Western Region must address a wide range of issues, including developing an improved understanding of the dynamics of the fishery, working towards solutions for improved management, promoting pro-poor livelihood opportunities, and building a stronger and more informed constituency to tackle these issues in transparent and equitable ways.