The third edition of the Fish Festival has opened in Accra with an exhibition of fish products and deliberations on promoting sustainable fisheries and aquaculture sector.
The two-day event is also to celebrate the efforts of fishermen and fish processors.
It was on the theme: ‘Promoting Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture for National Development’ and attracted stakeholders in the fisheries sector.
Apart from the exhibitors, including fish farmers, fish processors and fish traders who had displayed a variety of fishes and fish products, the event also attracted dealers in fishing and fish farming materials such as fish feed, fishing nets among others.
Patrons of the festival such as workers from the Ministries enclave, business owners in the surrounding communities of the Independence Square and schoolchildren had the opportunity to sample and enjoy many fish recipes for free from some of the exhibitors.
At the stands of the Tuna Merchants Association, patrons were seen sampling more than 10 recipes of tuna, including tuna jollof, tuna salad, tuna yam balls among others.
Some patrons were also seen buying and packing fresh fish, smoked fish, fried fish and other fish products.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development also mounted catfish and tilapia farming stands.
A giant fibre glass canoe painted yellow and blue was the centre of attraction as many of the patrons were seen watching it, taking pictures of it or posing to take a picture by it.
The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mavis Hawa Koomson, said the fisheries sector had over the years contributed to the economic development of Ghana.
Fishing and its related activities, she said, were very challenging, hence the need to celebrate fishers.
The sector, she said, supported the livelihoods of more than three million Ghanaians along the fisheries and aquaculture value chain, with fish contributing 1.04 per cent to Ghana's GDP in 2021.
The sector, she said, in spite of its significance had not achieved its full potential, "with poverty still high in many fishing communities in Ghana.
While the marine and inland fisheries resources were showing signs of full exploitation or over-exploitation, Mrs Koomson said aquaculture production was also constrained by factors such as limited access to good quality fingerlings, high cost of fish feed, inadequate funding for research and disease outbreaks.
That, she said, had led to Ghana importing quantities of fish to meet its domestic fish requirement, thereby putting pressure on the limited foreign reserves of the country.
The government, she said, was committed to sustainable management of the fisheries resources and development of the aquaculture industry for the benefit of current and future generations.
The Chief Director of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Kwesi Armo-Himson, said the government’s vision for the fish sector was to transform and grow the aquaculture sub-sector through increasing domestic fish production, reducing fish import and creating job opportunities along the value chain by providing a conducive environment.
She said it was important to manage fisheries resources sustainably to ensure continuous contribution to socio-economic development of fishers and the nation.
The fishing sector, he said, was currently confronted with challenges such as climate change, pollution of water bodies with plastic waste, illegal mining and illegal fishing practices which were all impacting negatively on the sector.
The Chief Executive Director of the Fisheries Commission, Fred Kwesi Antwi-Boadu, said the Fish Festival was first instituted in 2015 by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development to primarily celebrate distinguished fishers and outstanding fishing communities for their support to socio-economic development.
The second edition was held in Anloga in the Volta Region.
This year's edition, he said, was also to commemorate this year's World Fisheries Day which is marked on November 22 each year.
This year was also declared by the United Nations as the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture to enhance global awareness to support the contribution of small-scale artisanal fisheries and aquaculture to sustainable development.
This year’s Fish Festival provided a platform for the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development to interact with stakeholders and potential investors in the fisheries sector and educate the public on policies, projects and programmes of the government.
A fishers’ clinic was also set up for stakeholders to network and exchange knowledge and gain insight into opportunities available in the sector.