Tommy Steffensen (left), Captain of the Research Vessel, briefing the dignitaries on the operation of the vessel at the captain's bridge
Tommy Steffensen (left), Captain of the Research Vessel, briefing the dignitaries on the operation of the vessel at the captain's bridge

Research Vessel Dr Fridtjof Nansen docks in Tema

A marine research vessel (R/V), Dr Fridtjof Nansen, has docked at the Tema Port after completing an ecosystem survey in Ghanaian waters. 


The survey is part of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF)-Nansen Programme that the Food and Agriculture Organisation, Norway, and other partners are helping Ghana to implement.

The vessel docked in Tema after completing this year's Transboundary Demersal and Pelagic Resource Survey in Ghanaian waters, marking the end of a comprehensive 30-day ecosystem survey within the central Gulf of Guinea. 

The vessel, owned by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), is manned and operated by the Institute of Marine Research of the University Bergen, Norway.

It assists developing countries in improving their fisheries. The docking coincided with this year's celebration of World Oceans Day, which is commemorated on June 8 each year.

FAO, Ghana’s Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development and the Royal Norwegian Embassy held a durbar at the Tema Port last Friday to mark the occasion,
Present were representatives from the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea and from the public and private sectors who were taken on a guided tour of the research vessel before it returns to sea.

The vessel first visited Ghana in 1981, and subsequently in 2016 and 2019 to conduct stock assessment. The RV Dr Fridtjof Nansen is at the centre of the EAF-Nansen Programme, a long-standing partnership between FAO, Norway, regional organisations and 32 partner countries in Africa and the Bay of Bengal.

Named after the late Norwegian scientist, an explorer and humanitarian who was renowned for his ocean research contributions, the vessel is a platform for fostering cooperation among partner countries, researchers and partner organisations of the EAF-Nansen Programme. 


Speaking at the ceremony, a Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Abdul-Aziz Ayaba Musah, commended the FAO for implementing the EAF-Nansen Programme and for extending other technical assistance initiatives to Ghana.

“Today's activities underscore our collective commitment to stewardship, collaboration and shared responsibility,” he said. Mr Musah said Ghana's marine waters were rich with fisheries resources that must be exploited sustainably to benefit Ghanaians.

He indicated that the sector, however, faced challenges, including illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing practices, climate change, marine habitat destruction and pollution from plastics and industrial waste.

These issues, he said, had led to the over-exploitation of fisheries resources, depletion of fish species, loss of habitat and biodiversity, declining profitability for fishers and women fish processors, and increasing poverty in fishing communities.

He expressed optimism that the survey carried out by the vessel would provide the country with immense data on the stock levels of both pelagic and demersal resources, as well as the environmental conditions and pollution levels in the marine waters of Ghana. 

The Deputy Head of Mission representing the Ambassador of Norway to Ghana, Kyrre Holm, said the presence of the vessel in Ghana marked not only a milestone in the ongoing collaboration between the two nations but also a testament to the enduring partnership between Ghana and Norway.

"Its legacy is one of unparalleled dedication to the preservation of our oceans and the livelihoods that depend on them,” he said.


Arslen Bounemra of the FAO, in a statement read on behalf of the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Charles Abani, said artisanal fishing communities were among the poorest and most vulnerable in the world.

He said as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) commit to leaving no one behind, all must collectively ensure that artisanal fishing communities were not left behind. Over the years, the R/V Dr Fridtjof Nansen has conducted several scientific expeditions in Ghana, providing vital information for management of the oceans and marine life.

In the two most recent surveys, 14 national scientists and technicians were involved, receiving hands-on training in the vessel's scientific equipment, research methods and analysis. 

Having recently completed a study on fisheries resources in the Western Gulf of Guinea, the vessel will return to sea on June 8 to do a survey in the waters off Ghana to assess the selectivity of trawl gear, with the aim of making bottom trawl fisheries more sustainable.

Writer's Email: [email protected] 

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