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The Ghana Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP) – 2014 – 2021
The problem in Ghana’s Marine fisheries sector is complex, tragic, and too-common—severely overexploited fisheries put at risk tens of thousands of metric tons of local food fish supply and threaten the livelihoods of over 130,000 people and many more fisheries resource dependent households.
Ghana’s open access to fisheries resulted in extreme overcapitalization of fleets, exacerbated by poor governance, weak enforcement of rules and a fuel subsidy. As an intervention, The Ghana Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP) was designed following the accomplishments of the USAID-Ghana Integrated Coastal and Fisheries Governance (ICFG) Initiative – 2009 – 2014.
In this follow-up, the USAID /Ghana SFMP focused on small pelagics fisheries along the entire coastline as well as the demersal fisheries and essential mangrove fish habitat in the Western Region. Implementation of SFMP was led by the Coastal Resources Center at the Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, USA (URI-CRC) with Friends of the Nation (FoN) as part of a consortium of other international and local organizations – the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), Hen Mpoano, SSG Advisors, the Central & Western Fishmongers Improvement Association (CEWEFIA), Daasgift Quality Foundation (DQF), Development Action Association (DAA), Spatial Solutions and later on Resonance, GNCFC and NAPFTA for the implementation of the project.
The inception of the project in October 2014, coincided with the implementation of a regional investment initiative in the fisheries sector by the World Bank of which Ghana was one of the beneficiary countries, the West Africa Regional Fisheries Program (WARFP). The project was given a no-cost extension from the original completion date of October 2019 to September 2020, and further extended to April 2021 with a supplemental budget to address COVID-19 related challenges within the marine fisheries sector, following the outbreak of the disease in Ghana.
The SFMP project contributed to the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future Initiative and the Government of Ghana’s fisheries development objectives. The efforts of the project generated intense spotlight on the multiple challenges facing fisheries governance in Ghana and advocated for sustainability principles to be included in the National Fisheries Management Plan.
The SFMP project made substantial contributions to national fisheries policy development, co-management and constituency building, science for management. Also, SFMP provided solutions to addressing post-harvest, reducing child labor and trafficking in fisheries, institutional strengthening, gender mainstreaming.
The SFMP succeeded in boosting Ghana’s ability to generate reliable information for fisheries management decisions, and to focus attention on the resilience of fishing communities and fish processing infrastructure. One of the major lessons learned in the implementation of the project is that significant stakeholder engagement in the formulation and implementation of key management measures is critical to success.
The SFMP organizational capacity assessment and development initiative helped all stakeholder organizations to clarify and more deeply understand their unique institutional roles in the sector, and their status as contributors to the enabling environment for sustainable fisheries management.
The project made significant contribution towards achieving the project goal especially on capacity building and strengthened institutions such as the Marine Police, Fisheries Enforcement Unit (FEU), Judiciary, Fisheries Commission, etc. to improve fisheries deterrence to combat IUU. The project also piloted fisheries management initiatives with local fisheries management committees and management measures at 3 locations: Pra, Ankobra and Densu.
SFMP marked several accomplishments that contributed to the enabling conditions and foundations necessary to recover and achieve a sustainable fishery. While the project ended in April 2021 with significant contribution, much remains to be done to achieve a sustainable and lasting fishery that could provide an abundant, nutritious, and locally sourced food supply, as well as help lift many fishing households out of poverty.
To contribute to rebuilding of Ghana’s important marine fish stocks through adoption of responsible fishing practices.
- Strengthened enabling environment for marine resources governance in Ghana.
- Evidence of science and research applied to policy and management.
- Created informed constituencies and stakeholder engagement to support sustainable fisheries management.
- Supported applied management for Ghana’s fisheries management.
- Supported gender equality and empowerment in the fisheries sector.
- Improved Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in fisheries.
- Provided capacity development for targeted institutions.
Under the COVID-19 Response SFMP achieved the following:
- Fisherfolks at 300 landing sites were supported to adhere to COVID-19 disease prevention protocols.
- Two thousand vulnerable fisheries households were provided support that helped them avoid extreme poverty during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Government of Ghana was supported to have evidence on approaches for effective livelihood assistance for fishers.
SFMP specifically supported a number of key legal and policy reform actions critical to sustainable management of Ghana’s fisheries, these included:
- Supporting the Fisheries Commission’s implementation of the National Marine Fisheries Management Plan 2015 – 2019 policy.
- Revision of the National Fisheries Act 2002 No. 625.
- Development of a National Co-Management Policy.
- Development of a National Fisheries Sector Anti-Child Labor and Trafficking Strategy.
- Development of a National Fisheries Sector Gender Strategy
- Analysis of the impact of subsidies on fisheries management.
- Development of a National Artisanal Vessel (Canoe) Registration Program and moratorium on new entrants into the artisanal sector.
- Linking Canoe Authorization Cards to the national ‘premix’ subsidized fuel program.
- Development of a strategy to involve fishers in law enforcement.
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