US to support Ghana in creating Marine Protected Areas

US to support Ghana in creating Marine Protected Areas

The (US) government through the United States Agency for International Development () will support Ghana to create a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to replenish the country's fisheries and support local livelihoods.

The MPAs are portions of the sea where fishing activities are prohibited or limited to reduce overexploitation of fish stock and sustain marine resources.

In April this year, Mrs Mavis , the Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, announced that Ghana would create an MPA in 2026 to cover about 700 square kilometres of biodiversity-rich coastal waters.

Speaking at a ceremony to commemorate this year's World Oceans Day, at Busua in the Ahanta West Municipality of the , Mr Andrew Read, USAID/Ghana Economic Growth Office Director, said the USAID would provide $750,000 worth of technical assistance to support the establishment of the MPAs.

This, he said, would include organising workshops and meetings with stakeholders in the fisheries sector to develop a unified strategy for the creation of the MPAs in Ghana.

“This will ensure that MPAs adhere to the global best practices, and are created and governed in a participatory manner with local communities, balancing both human use and conservation needs,” he said.

According to Mr Read, this year's World Oceans Day commemoration highlighted the importance of community-driven approaches to marine conservation and the need for continued collaboration between the US and Ghana to support marine biodiversity, and as well as address climate change.

Mr Audul-Aziz Musah Ayamba, Deputy Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, in a speech read on his behalf, said the Cape Three Points area had been identified by many studies as an ecologically and biologically significant marine area deserving protection so efforts were ongoing to create the MPAs around that enclave.

He said: “I am pleased to inform you that a thorough process of community consultation and engagement regarding MPA establishment has begun in 21 Cape Three Points zone of influence communities. This process has mapped an area of 700 square kilometres as the potential MPA.”

He stated that the ocean and its blue economy held immense promise for Ghana's growth and the prosperity of citizens, therefore, the designation of the Cape Three Points MPAs would be a crucial step in addressing overfishing and safeguarding the future of Ghana's marine fisheries resources.

Mr , the Western Regional Minister, said designating the Cape Three Points enclave as an MPA would not only preserve the marine resources but also enable the oil companies to operate without interference from fishermen to generate enough proceeds for national development.

He called for effective dialogue, community engagements, sensitization and training of inhabitants on the importance of the Cape Three Points MPA and the need for community members to champion the conservation.

Mr Kofi Agbogah, Director of Hen Mpoano, a non-governmental organisation focused on coastal and marine ecosystems, said the importance of creating the MPAs around the Cape Three Points enclave could not be overstated, as it was important for fisheries productivity and production, an axis for biodiversity and conservation as well as tourism.

He called on all to continue supporting the course, especially, fishers at Cape Three Points and surrounding areas to help achieve the country's desire to protect its marine resources.

The World Oceans Day, marked on June 8, annually around the world, was organised by Hen Mpoano, and attended by relevant stakeholders in the fisheries sector in the Western Region.

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