Aziz Ayaba (2nd from left), a deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, together with Foluke Areola (left), President of the African Chapter, World Aquaculture Society, and other guests after the opening session of the 2024 Ghana Aquaculture Conference in Accra. Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO
Aziz Ayaba (2nd from left), a deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, together with Foluke Areola (left), President of the African Chapter, World Aquaculture Society, and other guests after the opening session of the 2024 Ghana Aquaculture Conference in Accra. Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO
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Govt committed to developing aquaculture sector — Minister

The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mavis Hawa Koomson, has emphasised the government's commitment to developing the aquaculture sector to bridge the gap between fish demand and local production.

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She said the gap had been created by the decline of marine fisheries and the high demand for fish which made aquaculture a crucial sector for food and nutritional security. Mrs Koomson gave the assurance at the opening of Aquaculture Ghana 2024 conference organised by the Chamber of Aquaculture Ghana.
 

Conference 

The two-day conference and exhibition were held on the theme: "Stakeholders Collaboration — A Key to Building a Resilient and Strong Aquaculture". The exhibition brought together industry regulators, fishers, hatchery operators, fish feed manufacturers, training institutions, fish processors, cold store operators, retailers, and consumers to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the aquaculture sector.

Progress, plan

In a speech read on her behalf by the Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Musah Abdul Aziz Ayaba, the minister stated that significant gains had been recorded in the industry, including a 159 per cent growth in fish production from 2016 to 2022, with tilapia and catfish dominating production.

She mentioned that the ministry was developing a Ghana National Aquaculture Development Plan (GNADP) for 2024-2028 to improve the practice, management and sustainable development of aquaculture.

Mrs Koomson outlined the plan's priorities, including increasing commercial output, market share, and value of farmed fish, as well as improving the performance of aquaculture value chain enterprises and sustainably improving the environment for aquaculture production.

The minister further urged stakeholders to continue collaborating to build a resilient and strong aquaculture sector.

Low collaboration

The President of the African Chapter of the World Aquaculture Society, Foluke Areola, lamented the lack of collaboration among key stakeholders in the aquaculture industry, hindering its growth and development in the African region.

She said the low level of collaboration among the three main players - the government, industry and no state actors was not promoting dialogue, research, and knowledge exchange, which were essential for the growth and sustainability of the industry.

She called on the government to provide leadership in aquaculture development and create an enabling environment for the sector through regulation of the sector to ensure compliance with aquaculture animal health standards, support for research, education and extension services and providing access to international markets for aquaculture products.

 Need for government support 

A Partner of RNB Farms, the largest fully integrated inland farm in Ghana, Benjamin Turkson, speaking on behalf of industry players, urged the government to provide support to the aquaculture industry to bridge the significant gap between supply and demand.

Mr Turkson highlighted the importance of domesticating fish production to meet the growing demand which cannot be met by the depleted fish stocks from the ocean. “Aquaculture is a necessity and is here to stay, presenting a significant opportunity for job creation, particularly for young people,” he said.

However, the industry faces numerous challenges, including high input costs and sustainability.

He also cited the recent losses due to the Akosombo and Kpong Dam spillage where fish cages were washed away and equipment damaged. Additionally, he said financial institutions were not ready to provide adequate financial support while insurance companies need to design policies to protect farmers, to make it easy for them to remain viable. 

“With the right policies and support, the industry can create jobs, ensure food security, and contribute significantly to Ghana's economic growth,” he said.

Impact

The Executive Director of the Fisheries Commission, Fred Antwi-Boadu, noted that the sector was critical to the socio-economic transformation agenda of Ghana as the fisheries sector currently provided jobs to 10 per cent of the population and was a significant source of protein for Ghanaians.

He said the Fisheries Commission was working with various stakeholders to implement projects across the country aimed at addressing the challenges faced in meeting the demand for fish protein.

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