Marine fisheries catches in Ghana: historic reconstruction for 1950 to 2010 and current economic impacts.
Ghana has a long fishing tradition, including industrial fishing. After many of the countries where Ghanaian fleets were actively fishing declared an Exclusive Economic Zone in the 1980s, the distant-water fleet of Ghana returned to its home waters, precipitating a collapse of some local stocks. While official catches reported to the FAO document this decline, the catches of other sectors (artisanal, subsistence, and recreational fishing) were not reported, their contribution to the livelihoods of Ghanaians was simply not documented, and their impact on fish stocks overlooked. Herein, total catches were estimated at 20.8 million tonnes between 1950 and 2010 compared to 11.8 million tonnes reported to the FAO. Subsistence catches, notably from coastal lagoons represented the bulk of unreported catches and seemed to have increased overall during this period, while the artisanal and large-scale sector catches decreased. Furthermore, the economic contribution of artisanal fisheries to Ghana is declining mainly due to use of non-sophisticated technology and activities of industrial fisheries making already poor communities poorer while industrial (particularly tuna) fisheries are increasing their profitability margin due to high technology being adopted and operating in less exploited parts of the continental shelf of Ghana. Accurate catch statistics and a better understanding of the contribution of the marine fisheries sector are needed for sustainable management of the fishing industry in Ghana and its contribution to the Ghanaian economy.