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President Akufo-Addo (2nd from right) exchanging pleasantries with Dr Eugene Owusu, Special Advisor of SDG’s and Sherpa to the President on Ocean Action, during the opening session of the National Blue Economy Summit. With them are Dr Archibald Letsa (2nd from left), Volta Regional Minister and Dean of Ministers, Mrs Hawa Koomson (right), Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and Ingrid Mollestard, Ambassador of Norway to Ghana. Picture: EBOW HANSON
President Akufo-Addo (2nd from right) exchanging pleasantries with Dr Eugene Owusu, Special Advisor of SDG’s and Sherpa to the President on Ocean Action, during the opening session of the National Blue Economy Summit. With them are Dr Archibald Letsa (2nd from left), Volta Regional Minister and Dean of Ministers, Mrs Hawa Koomson (right), Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and Ingrid Mollestard, Ambassador of Norway to Ghana. Picture: EBOW HANSON

Promoting responsible fishing: Protection of ocean vital - President Akufo-Addo

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stressed the need to prioritise the sustainable management of the ocean through robust enforcement of regulations.

He said that would prevent overfishing and promote responsible fishing practices. 

That was necessary, the President stressed, as the ocean presented an incredible opportunity to accelerate the nation's development agenda and cautioned against the consequences of negative human activities in the ocean.

Opening the country’s first-ever National Blue Economy Summit in Accra yesterday, President Akufo-Addo said: "We are witnessing the consequences of human activities. The ocean is the life source of the planet. A healthy ocean, human well-being and sustainable ocean management are inseparable.’’

He, therefore, called for collaboration to develop sustainable solutions to address the ocean crises since the challenges facing the ocean transcended boundaries which no single nation could fight alone.

“Hence, the need to foster international cooperation, share data and research findings, collaborate on joint projects to develop sustainable solutions to address the ocean crises,” President Akufo-Addo posited.

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Summit

The two-day summit is aimed at mobilising transformative ocean action to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs). 

It attracted 300 participants, including policymakers, academia, development partners, and local and international champions of the fishing industry.

It is being hosted by the SDGs Advisory Unit at the Office of the President in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI); the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, the Royal Norwegian Embassy and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 

On the theme: "Our Ocean’s Health, Our Prosperity, Our Planet's Security", the summit is expected to come up with a document that will drive the mainstreaming of ocean actions in national development, bridge the gap between academic research and industry, and establish an annual ocean summit in the country. 

Five-point proposal 

The call by the President is part of a five-point agenda he proposed for urgent action to contribute to the protection of the ocean.

President Akufo-Addo also noted that the country must work closely with its international partners to establish marine protected areas, safeguard marine-habitats and promote biodiversity on the sea.

"We have to deepen our strategic partnerships and build a progressive collaboration for an enhanced ocean health," he said.

Also, the President said the country must be deliberate in ensuring greater and smarter investment in ocean actions. 

Currently, he said, Ghana's ocean actions were financed largely through public philanthropic sources.

Although Ghana's private capital investment landscape in the past decade had seen significant growth, "not much of capital is deployed to the blue economy."

To attract private capital into more sustainable marine-based actions, President Akufo-Addo stated that there was the need to encourage public-private partnerships.

The President added that there must be increased investment in research, technological advancements and new knowledge.  

"By harnessing the power of research and innovation, we can navigate the challenges facing the ocean and pave the way for a brighter future," President Akufo-Addo averred.

Time bomb

The Special Advisor to the President on the SDGs and Ocean Action, Dr Eugene Owusu, said the ocean had been an integral part of human life but it was now being depleted through over-exploitation.

"We are sitting on a time bomb and the clock is ticking," a development he said was threatening the lives and well-being of millions of people.

"It is important to come together. We cannot achieve a sustainable and prosperous future without a healthy ocean," Dr Owusu said.

He said since the ocean did not have a voice, people collectively should be the voice of the ocean. 

Norway's commitment 

The Ambassador of Norway to Ghana, Ingrid Mollestad, said her country had a deep connection with the sea and that she respected and loved the ocean and believed that using marine resources in a sustainable way was vital for society.

Norway, she said, had its share of challenges with management of its ocean such as overfishing and that her country "had to fix this by implementing some policies.” 

“We have not been very good at fixing it. Sincerely, our eyes tell us something is wrong," Ms Mollestad said.

The Ambassador said Norway was committed to working with Ghana and other members of the high-level panel to spearhead global efforts in sustainable ocean management.

"If we do it right now it will benefit nature and humans," she said. 

Role of traditional leaders 

The Ga Mantse, Nii Tackie Teiko Tsuru II, in a speech read on his behalf by the Chief of Asere, Nii Kwao Donkor, said traditional leaders had an important role to play in the sustainable management of the ocean. 

He, therefore, pledged the support of the traditional leaders for initiatives aimed at saving the ocean.

“We will use our privileged position to create awareness and mobilise resources for safe and proper management of the sea," the Ga Mantse said.

King Teiko Tsuru stated that while putting in place innovative and sustainable solutions to save the ocean, the culture of people living along the coast must not be neglected.

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