Government has officially launched a USD 53 million programme at Libga in the Savelugu/Nantong Municipality of the Northern Region to boost aquaculture.
The programme dubbed West Africa Regional Fisheries Programme (WARFP) is line with the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development and the Fisheries Commission agenda to restock dams and dugouts in the Northern Region.
The International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank presented USD 50.3 million funding while the Global Environment Facility (GEF) provided USD 3.5 million for its implementation.
The Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo officiated the launch and commended the donor partners for their support.
He expressed government’s desire to resuscitate the nation’s aquaculture with the USD 53.8 million package.
“The West Africa Regional Fisheries Programme is to further strengthen the country’s capacity to sustainably govern and manage the fisheries, reduce illegal fishing, increase the value and profitability generated from fish and aquatic resources exploitation,” the minister pointed out.
“The programme is expected to directly benefit an estimated number of 206,000 Marine and Lake Volta fishers, at least 27,000 women fish processors and over 3,000 fish farmers,” he anticipated.
According to the Senior Minister, the programme will focus on fixing identified problems in the fishing sector.
“We will adopt strategies to ensure the sustainable increase of the net economic benefits from the nation’s fishing industry,” he stated.
The Senior Minister said Ghana recently moved from 39,000 to 48,000 metric tons of fish harvesting with the expectation to hit 60,000 metric tons by the close of 2017.
The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Elizabeth Naa Afoley Quaye promised that the first phase of the programme will ensure the construction of 100 dams and dugouts with a total water surface area of about 2,860 hectares in 35 districts nationwide.
“Brong Ahafo, Northern, Upper East, Upper West and the northern part of Volta regions are expected to benefit from the program,” she stressed.
“The dams and dugouts would be stocked with 100 million multi-species and mixed-sex fingerlings including tilapia, catfishes and heterotis niloticus,” she said.
Elizabeth Naa Afoley Quaye is optimistic that residents of the would-be beneficiary communities will zealously safeguard the programme to guarantee its sustainability.
“This is a joint enterprise between the government and the beneficiary communities and this requires that the residents should take a center stage in its management to help government achieve its objectives,” the minister said.
Ther minister also recognised that the 17-hectare Libga dam where they are doing this initial restocking has fisheries management system in place by way of net mesh regulation instituted by the fishers themselves.
“I wish to acknowledge the 35 member Libga Fishermen Association and urge them to put in place more measures such as closed seasons periods within which fishing is suspended. These measures should help to reduce excessive fishing pressure, replenish the depleting fish stock and achieve sustainable fishing,” she stated.
The Northern Regional Minister, Salifu Sa-eed on behalf of the chiefs and people of the region thanked government for kick starting the programme there.
He said the Regional Coordinating Council and the Savelugu Municipal Assembly will collaborate to effectively monitor and supervise the programme.