A comprehensive study focused on enhancing transparency in Ghana's fisheries sector has called for a more open and inclusive approach to governance in the implementation of policies to stimulate the sector's growth.
The study, which was conducted in Benin, Cote D'Ivoire, and Senegal, emphasised the need for the government and fisheries-related institutions to integrate fishers as key stakeholders in the decision-making process of the sector.
Over a two-year period, the study concentrated on three primary objectives: evaluating transparency and accountability within the fisheries sector, establishing functional mechanisms for information sharing, and enhancing governance and enforcement in the fisheries domain.
The study's findings were unveiled during a Validation and Dissemination Workshop on Transparency and Accountability in Ghana's Fisheries Sector, organised by the Centre for Maritime Law and Security Africa (CEMLAWS Africa) and the Vibrant Oceans Initiative, with participation from various stakeholders.
Dr Rebecca Kyirewaa Essamuah, Senior Researcher and Programme Manager at CEMLAWS Africa, stressed that achieving the desired outcomes in Ghana's fisheries sector necessitates the active involvement of fishers and other players in the value chain.
She emphasised that it was not enough for these stakeholders to merely occupy a seat at the decision-making table; their voices needed to be heard, and they should actively contribute to shaping policies.
Dr Essamuah explained, “We are not implying that the government lacks transparency. Instead, we are suggesting that we can enhance transparency by involving stakeholders in decision-making and making information more accessible.”
Participants at the workshop raised concerns about being excluded from policy formulation and implementation, particularly highlighting the often overlooked role of women in the sector.
Mr. Seth Kedey, Chief Fisherman of Dzelukope and Volta Regional Chairman of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council expressed the commitment of fishers to collaborate with authorities in addressing the sector's challenges. He underlined the importance of sea protection and industry integrity.
“Some fishers in the country still employ illegal fishing methods and harm the sea, but not in the Volta Region. We must protect the sea, and the industry, and be honest with ourselves,” Mr. Kedey stated.
Prof. Francis K. E. Nunoo, Chairman of the Fisheries Commission Board, emphasised the importance of data for the growth of the industry, which is often considered one of the least understood in West Africa, and often associated with impoverished communities.
While Ghana has some data on the marine sector, there is a notable gap regarding the inland sector. Prof. Nunoo stressed the urgency of addressing these challenges promptly.
He added, “Though we are not well-resourced to be present everywhere and collect data, we continue to share information with the public. Our data is often science-based, and it might be challenging to interpret. However, we take steps to explain the information to the public before its release.”