An online platform meant to provide scientific and relevant social information to support decision and policy making in the fishing sector has been launched in Accra. Dubbed FishCoMGhana, the platform seeks to collate, manage and distribute information and all relevant data through the internet to support fisheries and coastal resource management and research in Ghana.
The Centre for Coastal Management (CCM) of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) in the Central Region is the lead initiator of the project that is being funded by USAID.
FishCoMGhana is an acronym meaning, Fisheries and Coastal Management in Ghana.
Launching the platform on Thursday, Dr Denis Worlonyo Aheto, Director of the Centre for Coastal Management, UCC said that the website would serve as a one-stop shop for accessing historical data rescued from various sources and also contain social and scientific information.
The scientific information, he said would include; new field observations and experimental results on inland, marine and coastal fisheries as well as other resources in Ghana.
He said the content of the platform provides a mobile interface that allows users to search, download or create reports on archived social and scientific data and information for access by students, scientists, policy makers, government and non-governmental agencies locally and on the international scene.
Explaining the necessity of the platform, Dr Aheto said data on fisheries and marine environment were scattered in the repositories of different national institutions which limited the capacity of the nation to effectively integrate long-term observations on coastal habitats and resources to support the development and sustainable management of fisheries.
He said the situation did not also encourage communication between researchers, users and mangers of coastal resources in the country.
Dr Aheto said the UCC therefore decided to partner other institutions including University of Ghana, University for Development Studies, University of Energy and Natural Resources, University of Rhode Island in the USA and the USAID to establish the online platform to help close the information gap in the fishing sector.
Professor George Oduro, Vice Chancellor of UCC said the depletion of fish stock was a worldwide phenomenon and there was the need to plan scientifically to provide evidence based proof “to conquer this galamsey operation affecting the fishing sector, especially in Ghana”.
Dr Emmanuel Acheampong, Lecturer, Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, UCC said FishCoMGhana was being developed to augment Ghana’s Fisheries Management Plan, which sought to increase or rebuild fish stock to enhance socio-economic conditions of the fishing communities.
He said the platform would provide a key to access fishing information at no fee to help policy makers, Government and other stakeholders to work together to improve fisheries and coastal resources to the benefit of the people.
Mr Richard Chen, Private Sector Team Leader, Economic Growth Office of the USAID-Ghana said FishCoM Ghana initiative would strengthen communication and collaboration among actors that were working to ensure that Ghana’s fish stock was replenished.
Mr Paul Bannerman, Deputy Director at the Fisheries Commission who represented the Minister Designate for Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Madam Naa Afoley Quaye, commended the partners for initiating FishCoMGhana that would offer efficient and easy access of information for decision making process and efficient management of fishing industry.
“The need for good and accurate information is extremely essential if planners and beneficiaries of fish and fisheries resources are to derive any benefits from it”, he said.
Mr Bannerman said currently over 20 per cent of Ghanaians workforce were employed in the fishing sector that also provides about GH¢1 billion in revenues each year.
He therefore urged all relevant institutions to make sure that the platform was beneficial and sustained by sending their information and patronising it to aid development of the fishing.