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28 Sep 2022

Kwabena Adu Koranteng, News Ghana

Ghana: Chinese fishing investment raises concern over livelihoods and sustainability

"China’s Capture Of Ghana’s Fishing Industry Threatening Food Security" 28 September 2022

In Brief:

  • Politically connected businesspeople in Ghana act as fronts for Chinese fishing businesses;
  • It is illegal for foreign vessels to fish in Ghana’s waters, but over the past 10 years, vessels owned and run by Chinese businesses have proliferated;
  • The methods used are unsustainable with nets that are deemed “illegal” or irregular as they scoop up fish from different depths even though the trawlers don’t necessarily aim to catch the fish they net;
  • Industrial methods disadvantage local fishermen, but the trawler operators have struck up relationships with local fishermen by selling their excess catches to them.
  • There is a major cost to Ghana’s economy. In money terms, Ghana loses US$50 million dollars annually that should go to the fiscus; but perhaps the more profound effect is on food security and nutrition with many fisherman saying that the depletion of fish is so severe, they are unable to catch enough to sustain themselves, let alone generate sufficient food to feed their families;
  • The ill effects can be summarised in three respects: Ghana’s economy loses US$50 million/year to transhipment activities; more than half the fish (60 percent) consumed in the country is imported, causing the government to lose
    revenue; subsidies to the fishing industry are not recovered due to the losses suffered by the artisanal fishermen;
  • Fisheries regulations stipulate the mature size of fish to be harvested. Once any fish below that size is caught, it is regarded as illegal fishing.
  • The decrease in fish stocks has a knock-on economic effect. Religious leaders have lamented that when there’s a sparse or no harvest, it affects the offerings of church members; furthermore, the people working in the industry have numerous dependents putting them under pressure in terms of survival;
  • People worst affected by the demise in fish stocks and distortions in the fishing industry say there is lack of political will to tackle the challenges faced by artisanal fishermen.