A three- day workshop on Ocean Science and Fisheries for Ghanaian journalist aimed at exposing Media practitioners to issues relating to ocean governance has ended in Cape Coast.
It was also to help the participants to have deeper and broader understanding of commercial and artisanal fishing on Ghana’s coast and the cumulative impact of over fishing as well as illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing on coastal communities.
It was organised by the Journalist for Responsible Fisheries and Environment(JRFE) and the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) with funding from the Adessium Foundation, the Earth Journalism Network (EJN) and Internews Europe. Participants were made up of some selected journalists from the four coastal regions, Western, Central, Volta and Greater Accra Regions of Ghana
Topics discussed included sustainability and over fishing through the science lens, sustainability and over fishing through the Government lens, Fisheries legislation, Fisheries Journalism and storytelling, Economic impact of dwindling fish stock and network journalism.
Participants analysed artisanal fleets and the country’s food security through expert presentations, discussions and embarked on a field research trip to the Elmina landing bay to have better understanding of the issues.
Mr Kwamena Duncan, Central Regional Minister in an address, described the training as timely and appropriate as it could go a long way to address the challenges that undermined the efforts of fisherfolks and other stakeholders in the industry to reap optimal benefits.
He challenged the journalists to bring the knowledge acquired to bare on their reportage and come out with useful and pragmatic suggestions to address the problems in the fishing industry. He commended the organisers of the training and pledged Government’s unflinching support towards all efforts aimed at ensuring sustainable fisheries.
Mr James Fahn, Global Director of Internews’ Environmental Programs and a Lecturer at University of California and the Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism said journalists had greater roles of explaining the long term environmental impact on unregulated fishing and its related issues to help both public and policy makers to make informed decisions.
He however, noted that journalists sometimes did not have the time and resources and the scientific expertise to do intriguing fisheries stories to bring about the desired change, hence the training to help sharpen their skills Mr Kofi Agbogah, National Activities Manager, Sustainable Fisheries Management Project and Director Hen Mpoano said Government must demonstrate a great sense of commitment and the political will to enforce fishing laws.
He said recognising Saiko and its effects on the fisheries sector, it may require a great deal of courage and fortitude as the many faces of IUU went deep into the roots of families, societies and cultures. Mrs Shirley Asiedu Addo, Executive member of the Central Region GJA and Co-Founder of JRFE, said their goal was to join the fight for responsible fishing and sound environmental practices through passionate, accurate and objective reportage.
She said the idea was born as out of the fact that fish stocks were at an alarmingly low levels while fishermen continued to use illegal unregulated and unreported methods of fishing. Meanwhile Government’s efforts at pumping more pre mix fuel and money into the sector to boost the industry was not yielding enough benefits as fishing communities got poorer.