The Fisheries Commission has developed a new requirement to regulate aquaculture in the country in order to help increase farm productivity and ensure safe and quality fish for the market.
The Fish Farming Certification Protocol is currently being validated by experts and stakeholders in the aquaculture industry for necessary inputs before it is forwarded to the Cabinet for consideration.
The new protocol, which is a review of an existing one-stop certification, has been split into a three-tier certification criteria, with a focus on ensuring a more practical and step-by-step approach to the adoption of good aquaculture practices and food safety standards.
It is being spearheaded by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the Water Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (WRI-CSIR) and KIT Royal Tropical Institute of The Netherlands and WorldFish under the Tilapia Seed Project.
As a result, a two-day validation workshop was held in Dodowa in the Greater Accra Region last Monday to present the reviewed tiered certification protocol to farmers and stakeholders for awareness and validation.
The workshops will be held in the southern, middle and northern parts of the country. The first workshop hosted farmers, stakeholders, aquaculture sector regulators and individual experts from the Eastern, Greater Accra and Volta regions.
The middle zone workshop will host farmers and stakeholders from the Bono, Bono East, Ahafo and Ashanti regions, while that of the northern zone is expected to host stakeholders from the Upper East, Upper West, Savanah, North East and Northern regions.
Opening the workshop, a researcher at the WRI-CSIR, Dr Seth Agyakwah, observed that the objective of a certification system was to ensure that products were of good quality and safe for human consumption.
He said in 2017, a one-stop certification protocol for aquaculture establishments (hatcheries, grow-outs and feed mills) was introduced in Ghana’s aquaculture industry by the Fisheries Commission.
He said three years on, no aquaculture farm (large or small scale) had been certified due to the unsuccessful fulfilment of all requirements in the certification protocol, according to a diagnostic study conducted by the Tilapia Seed Project in 2020.
“Thereafter, the project consortium partners, including the Fisheries Commission, have reviewed and partitioned the existing one-stop certification protocol into a three-tier certification protocol, with focus on ensuring a more practical and step-wise approach to the adoption of good aquaculture practices and food safety standards.
“We are going to validate important protocol or certification guidelines that have been developed since 2017 by the Fisheries Commission,” he said.
The Head of the Inland Fisheries Division at the Fisheries Commission, Dr Emmanuel Nii Aryee, said with a collaborative effort, the Tilapia Seed Project sought to develop a seed dissemination programme, with attendant research that had been executed to ensure that farmers had equitable distribution of good and quality fingerlings for production.
“At the heart of this is the health aspect, because before you cultivate the fish, it is the state of the fingerlings that will determine finally what will be produced; and essentially we want to produce fish of high quality without any diseases or contamination.
“We are here to look at hatcheries, grow-outs and feed mills certification protocol that has been developed by our fish health unit. The workshop seeks to get the input of stakeholders because this document will be sent to the Cabinet for approval and become the basis for managing our farms,” he said.
A researcher and Chairman of the workshop, Dr Eddie Kofi Abban, said inputs made by participants would help improve the country’s fisheries sector.