Economic Value Assessment of Small-Scale Fisheries in Elmina, Ghana
Although recent studies in Ghana show that overall poverty in coastal areas is decreasing, considerable challenges still face government and communities in their bid to improve living conditions in fishing communities. In order to achieve the goal of sustainable fishing livelihood in fishing communities, the economic conditions and actual benefits accruing to fishermen from small-scale fishing needs be assessed as part of broader fisheries management agenda. This paper presents reference data for addressing these issues relative to long term sustainability of fishing from an economic perspective. The specific objectives were to conduct an economic assessment of the small-scale fisheries to determine major fish species of economic importance at the Elmina landing beach. Secondly, estimate the net economic benefit to the fishermen and suggest possible conservation or management interventions. Questionnaires were administered randomly among a total of 60 fishermen at the landing beach for a period of four weeks between February 6 and March 6, 2010. The economic benefits derived from the fishery activities were estimated based on monetary gains from quantities of fish caught, the market prices and their investment costs. The results indicate that Sardinella aurita constituted the most dominant fish species caught by majority of the fishermen (16%) followed by Dentex angolensis and Epinephelus aeneus each represented by 15.43% of the fishermen. Caranx crysos and Sepia officinalis were among the least common fish species caught. The most valuable fish species landed include Epinephelus aeneus, Sparus caeruleostictus, Dentex angolensis, and Lutjanus goreensis valued at US$2.97, US$2.87, US$2.85 and US$2.63 per kilogram respectively. The least valuable species include Dasyatis margarita, Pseudotolithus senegalensis, sadinella aurita and Caranx crysos valued at US$0.34, US$0.62 and US$0.66 per kilogram respectively. We recommend that efforts should be made at improving the value through processing of heavily caught but less valuable fish species such Sardinella aurita. Studies should be instituted into the biology (reproduction and growth) of the highly valuable species for aquaculture purposes and to explore the economic feasibility of culturing these valuable species since their present economic value could drive their over-exploitation.