Ghana’s fish stock will continue to see a further decline in the coming months.
The disturbing development was revealed by the University of Cape Coast’s Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, which says not much can be done to save the situation.
According to the research conducted by the department, the decline is due to climate change.
Climate change, which has led to a rise in the temperature of the sea, has started reducing the stock of fish along the cost as they migrate to cooler areas. Professor Aggrey Fynn, an associate Professor of the department, contends that the country should brace itself for an even further decline along the coast as they will not be able to survive in the new temperatures of the sea.
“Fishes are also living organisms just like us so as the temperature rises they will begin to feel uncomfortable in their environment, so if they have the opportunity to move they will move to where temperature is okay for them otherwise they will do. Climate change is going to cause a lot of fish species to move out of their natural habitat.”
Challenges facing fisher folk
Anlo beach Community located in the Western Region near Shama, has been drastically affected by the rise in sea level, which has evaded their land and washed away countless homes.
One of the fishermen in the area explained how the rise in sea level has impacted fishing activities in the community.
”….The sea has taken over our land and we are now in a helpless state . Fortunately, the government has given us a piece of land which is uphill so we know we will be safe there. However we will continue to fish here whiles we dwell in our new settlement. The rise in sea level has brought us a lot of problems and has also reduced the number of fishes we catch drastically, sometimes I catch nothing at all” he lamented.
Madam Aku Amegatse, a seventy-year-old woman who has been processing fish in the community for the past 19 years, also lamented about how the rise in sea level has impacted her life and business.
“Previously, there were long intervals between the sea evading our homes, but it has now become a daily thing , it has affected my business as the shed in which I used to smoke my fish has been washed away, also the fishermen do not catch as many fishes as before.”
Solutions to deal with challenges
Ghana, which consumes over 950,000 metric tons of fish annually, currently imports over 60 percent of its fish, and in 2016, imported 135 million dollars worth of fish because of the reduction in the country’s fish stock.
Professor Fyn, however, believes Ghana should adopt the taste for the few varieties of fish that will remain along the coast in order not to increase the country’s already high fish import.
“There are other species which are available, in fact there are quite a number of other species that are common in our water but we have developed a taste for specific kinds of fish and so we are over-exploiting them.”
He added that government should take another look at the period for the country’s closed season of fishing to increase fish yield.
“We want to revamp our stocks and that is why we have established a closed season. It has to be strategic, and done scientifically so government should consult with researchers in the sector on the best time to establish the closing season, otherwise climate change may leave us with very few fish in our seas.”