Accra — The World Bank Country Director in Ghana has disclosed that about 9 million tons of fish are legally captured in the West African waters each year, with an estimated demand for fish and seafood in the region expected to increase by 30% in the next 10 years.
He noted that in Ghana the coastal communities are catching less fish each year and this means that governments and international organisations need to do more to carefully manage their natural resources in the sea, as Africa accounts for 5% in global fisheries and aquaculture output.
Henry Kerali was speaking on Sunday evening, during the opening ceremony of a weeklong Sustainable Fisheries workshop for Journalists under the theme 'Harnessing the Power of Media to Raise Awareness on Africa's Fisheries', held in Accra, Ghana.
The training that gathered journalists from both print and electronic media from 40 African countries, aims to assist African journalists in producing fact-based reporting on fisheries issues. It is expected that such accurate reporting would build increased awareness while producing a conducive environment for reform and help secure a sustainable future for fisheries resources.
Kerali told the meeting that this workshop is designed to support the work of journalists in making factual reporting of the fisheries sector, while expressing hope that with time this knowledge will be beneficial for millions of people across Africa and the world at large.
According to him, in Africa the majority of the poor sustain their lives on fisheries and about 12 million people are engaged in fisheries development. "However the big concern is that our coasts are under threat, the world has lost roughly 20% of the sea grass since 1970 and almost 20% of the mangrove habitat since 1980".
The World Bank Country Director in Ghana revealed that the World Bank Is committed to raise $16 billion for climate resilience including $1.6 billion in support of the ocean economy. Over the past decades, he added, Africa's fisheries sector has rapidly expanded without proper governance and management.
Dr. Mohamed Seisay, Senior Fisheries Officer, African Union-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) said that AU-IBAR is a specialised technical office of the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture (DREA) of the African Union Commission, and it has been in existence since 1951 with the main focus on animal production and health issues, livestock, fisheries and wildlife as resources for both human wellbeing and economic development in the Member States of the African Union.
He described the training as timely, saying it has come at a time when serious concerns are nurtured on the marginalisation of the sector as compared to other agricultural sectors including crops and livelihood.
He added that the sector currently provides employment for over 12 million citizens, a source for relatively cheap animal protein with huge potential to contribute to economic growth of AU member states.
He added that the first conference of African Ministers for Fisheries and Aquaculture recognised some of the challenges in fisheries sector and charged the African Union to formulate a pan African Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy framework to ensure coherence in the management of the sector for increased contribution to food security, livelihoods and wealth.