Friends of the Nation (FoN) has been selected as one of the implementing partners for the five-year Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP). The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has committed approximately $24 million dollars to the SFMP to contribute to food security in Ghana. The Coastal Resources Center at the Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, USA (CRC), is the lead in this project lasting from October 2014 to October 2019.

The fisheries management project has the objective to rebuild Ghana’s marine fisheries stocks and catches through facilitating adoption of responsible fishing practices. It complements the Government of Ghana’s fisheries development objectives and USAID’s Feed the Future (FtF) Initiative goals of improved food security, economic growth and poverty alleviation.

This project, which will contribute to consolidating the gains made by the Integrated Coastal and Fisheries Governance (ICFG) Initiative (2009-2014), will also contribute to the strengthening of marine and fisheries management training at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) and coastal spatial planning capacity of districts in the Central and Western Regions.

“We are delighted to be part of this project. It rekindles our longstanding endeavor to promote broad-based education to fishermen along the coast of Ghana,” said Donkris Mevuta, Executive Director of Friends of the Nation. “Our work in this area, particularly the ICFG project, was focused more on the Western Region. The SFMP will go beyond to involve more fisher folk, which is necessary for a broader voluntary compliance of the Fisheries Regulations by fishers contributing to responsible fisheries and the rebuilding of stocks. Further, the project seeks to improve governance in the sector where fisher folk will have space to act as co-managers of their resources.”

“This will be a very challenging and ambitious project,” said Dr. Brian Crawford of CRC, Chief of Party for the SFMP. Working with the Ghanaian Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) and the Fisheries Commission, the project team hopes to reverse the trend in declining fish catches. “With improved management, tens of thousands of metric tons of high-quality, low-cost fish protein supply can be recovered, benefiting not only tens of thousands of fishermen and women processors, but improving food security for millions of people in Ghana and its neighbors in West Africa,” Dr. Crawford said.

The project aims at ending overfishing of some key marine fish stocks like herrings, sardinella and anchovies, which are crucial to local food security. To achieve these goals the SFMP will:

1. Improve the legal enabling conditions for effective collaborative management of marine resources, use rights and effort-reduction strategies
2. Increase the use of science and applied research to inform decision making and to strengthen enforcement
3. Heighten public awareness of fisheries issues to build public and political support needed to rebuild fish stocks; and
4. Implement applied management initiatives for several targeted fisheries ecosystems

Lead implementing partner CRC will work with a consortium of other international and local organisations namely Friends of the Nation, Hen Mpoano, the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), SSG Advisors, the Central & Western Fishmongers Improvement Association (CEWEFIA), Daasgift Quality Foundation (DQF), Development Action Association (DAA) and Spatial Solutions.

It was critically stated at a recent planning meeting for the project in Accra that, “managing fisheries is not about managing fish but rather managing humans.” Therefore, the project also aims to deepen the information behind the drivers of unsustainable fisheries and helping to reduce Child Labor and Trafficking in the fisheries sector in the Central Region, and to assist women processors and marketers to promote improved fish smoking and processing techniques.

December 8, 2014