Assessment of the Security of Coastal Fishing Operations in Ghana from the Perspectives of Safety, Poverty and Catches
The study was conducted in four fish landing sampling stations along the southern coastline of Accra Region from June, 2014 to January, 2015. The purpose of the study was to assess the security of coastal fishing operations in Ghana from three main perspectives, namely safety, poverty and fish catches. Data was obtained from both primary sources (field data) and grey literature by courtesy of FSSD and MCSD. A number of factors were found to impact the security of coastal fishing from the perspective of safety. These included total fines and the number of IUU infractions recorded in Ghana’s coastal waters; awareness of fisheries regulation measures, compliance with fisheries regulations and the absence of government officials as the prominent enforcement agent of fisheries regulation measures. From the perspective of poverty, the security of coastal fishing was found to be under high risk with respect to high poverty head count, vulnerabilities and marginalization indicators. Similarly, the security of coastal fishing operations from the perspective of catches was also under high risk. This was because the calculated fishing mortality rates (F) (ranging from F=1.48 yr-1 to F= 2.92 yr-1, compared to Fopt = 0.4M) were beyond the limit for sustainable fishing. Consequently, the estimated exploitation rates (E) for majority of the assessed fish species ranging from 0.53 to 0.76 were greater than the optimum level of 0.5, implying heavy exploitation. Further, the calculated lengths at first capture (Lc) (3.71 cm – 13.19 cm) were less than the calculated lengths at first maturity (Lm) (7.4 cm – 17.9 cm) indicating the presence of growth overfishing. It was concluded that the overall security of coastal fishing operations was under very high risk requiring urgent management attention. Some recommendations for effective management have been provided including initiating community sensitization programmes and partition of marine patrols between Ghana Navy and Ghana Marine Police.