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“Cleanliness they say is next to godliness” an expression by John Wesley in the 17th century. It is well-known that an individual is likely to be clear-headed and well-endowed to effectuate positivity that will accordingly draw him closer to the Supreme Being in an immaculate environment.
We are in times where the world’s population is eminently increasing due to swift urbanization and this has led to a significant production of waste and different kinds of pollutants. These wastes travel as far as our beaches and into the ocean causing detrimental effects including, jeopardizing the ocean ecosystem in tandem with the interference with human use of ocean and coastal environments.

Fish landing site in Apam/ Credit: Eunice Osei-Yeboah
Fish landing site in Apam/ Credit: Eunice Osei-Yeboah

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the larger part of pollutants that enter the ocean come from anthropogenic activities along the coastlines.
The ocean plays an essential role in the life of man. Among all the resources from the ocean, fish constitutes a larger part and pervades more diverse oceanic environments. In September 2014, the FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva in a conference on Sustainable fisheries expressed that, 4.3 billion people in the world are dependent on fish for 15% of their animal protein intake. Resources from the ocean make key inputs to the economy and well-being in many sectors and the populace. Supplementarily, the ocean aids in regulating climate and weather. Marine and Ocean Pollution Statistics and Facts 2020 indicated that over 70% of the oxygen we respire is directly produced by marine plants.
In spite of all these incredible assets to man, the ocean is being consumed by marine litter.
The UN Environment Program (UNEP), defines marine litter as any persistent, manufactured, or processed solid material discarded, disposed of, or abandoned in the marine and coastal environments.
Analysis of marine waste however reveals that plastics constitute a weightier percentage of the marine litter internationally. In a review of available literature, plastic wastes on the beaches continue to increase with sizes differing from containers, fishing nets to microscopic plastic pellets and particles. One of the problems troubling the marine terrain in Ghana is the quandary of careless dumping of wastes.
In the early hours of one busy Monday morning (November 30, 2020), I dropped in Jamestown, a borough situated within the Asheidu Keteke Sub-Metro in the Accra Metropolis. Arguably, it is a small and densely populated community that depends typically on fishing. I took the opportune moment to visit the beach. As the saying goes, “the morning breeze has secrets to tell you” Indisputably, the onshore breeze had a secret to tell – “the air you breathe might perhaps be contaminated from marine litter that once floated in the sea”.

Fish landing site in Jamestown/Credit: Eunice Osei-Yeboah
Fish landing site in Jamestown/Credit: Eunice Osei-Yeboah

At the landing beach, a lot of canoes were docked because of the appearance of the full moon. Most fishers were of the view that fishing is less productive when there is a full moon. The vast area was entirely fraught with trash.
United States Environmental Protection Agency, has laid out that, when trash finds its way into the ocean through ocean currents, they are often eaten by birds and fish and that concentrate toxic chemicals in their tissues, fill their stomachs, and cause them to starve which can possibly cause their depletion.
In addition, marine litter does not only diminish the aesthetic and recreational values of beaches and marine resources, but it can also cause life-threatening medical problems.
Marine debris is extremely likely to author coastal water contamination and as made evident by Marine and Ocean Pollution Statistics and Facts 2020, such contamination is guilty of 250 million clinical cases of human diseases annually. Diseases and severe problems associated include; nervous system damage, kidney issues, and reproductive or hormonal issues.
According to World Population Review, the current population of Ghana based on the latest United Nations data is over 31 million people. FAO has however indicated that as many as 2.6 million of the population of Ghana depend on fisheries for livelihood.
What happens when our resources are ruined by trash? Imagine; our beaches been filled with trash, our water bodies been consumed with trash, a country with no resources from its water bodies – a very frightening prospect. Not only will our water bodies be affected, but also the livelihood of many would be at risk. The effect would, directly and indirectly, be felt by everyone.
We all have a part to play in saving our ocean and keeping the beaches clean.
Be a part of the solution, not the pollution!

Climate & Ocean Action Climate Change News SOA Ghana Fellows

Enforcement of fisheries laws: An essential means to sustainable fisheries

According to national fisheries statistics, Ghana’s fisheries sector has undergone a prohibitive decline in stocks over the last few years, threatening the uncertainties of fisherman’s livelihoods, coastal communities, and the nation’s economy. The key contributor to this decline is unsustainable fishing practices, including illegal fishing. This calls for immediate measures to improve the sustainability of the fisheries sector. Violators use fishery tools without notice of subsequent productivity over time, regardless of the many years of support from the government, agencies, scientists, and NGOs for the establishment of principles of sustainable management. Sustainable management relies on the value of conservation and management laws.

The Ghana Fisheries Laws frame of reference, while still undergoing revisions to ensure that emerging issues are addressed and that global standards are also followed up; many concerns are popping up. As government instigates on these reforms, the main question that runs through the minds of most actors is “how good and efficient have those laws fostered sustainable fishing practices so far?”.

In an engagement with the representative of the Omanhen at the Elmina Canoe and Fishermen’s Palace, Mr. Kofi Susu expressed, “Gone are the days when citizens used to put the interest of Ghana as their ultimate priority. But what do we see today?  We are all interested in our wellbeing, leaving behind the wellbeing of this country and that is what has butted in the fishing industry”. He added, “whatever challenges the industry is facing balls down to the weak enforcement of the fisheries regulations”. According to him, the definite way to fend for an encouraging future for the sector depends on the level of enforcement.

An interaction with Mr. Kofi Susu, a Canoe Owner and a Rep. of the Omanhen at Chief Fisherman’s Office, Elmina /Credit: Eunice Osei-Yeboah
An interaction with Mr. Kofi Susu, a Canoe Owner and a Rep. of the Omanhen at Chief Fisherman’s Office, Elmina /Credit: Eunice Osei-Yeboah

The two main legitimate frameworks exercised by the government to manage the fishery sector are; the Fisheries Act 625, of 2002, and Fisheries Regulation (L.I. 1968) of 2010. However, the Navy, the police, and the courts are equipped to put these laws into effect. Apart from the fact that rules and legislation are completely committed to the document, they are less compelled to follow their meaning without any form of compliance, so the law must be implemented efficiently and effectively.

A report in 2004 by The Center for Conservation and Government at Conservation International on Strengthening the Weakest Links: Strategies for Improving the Enforcement of Environmental Laws Globally, indicated that, compliance is a “chain” that requires subsequent intervention. By way of clarification, strong compliance requires not only good identification but also successful investigation, detention, prosecution, and conviction of lawbreakers, and the implementation of sanctions where applicable. This alludes to the fact that a compliance framework can successfully minimize violations if each of these measures is carried out effectively.

 For this reason, strengthening only one part of this “chain” will not succeed as long as other pronounced weaknesses exist; a typical reflection of what is seen in Ghana’s fisheries sector.

Course of Action

Improving compliance would eliminate or reduce illegal fishing activities to a reasonable level. Although we recognize sustainability as a country, there should be no political interference in the implementation and enforcement of fisheries laws and regulations. Based on personal communication with some of the fishermen and key players in the industry, the implementation of fisheries legislation and the prosecution of those who violate them are undermined by political elites.

Factor 6 of the World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index which examines how regulations are implemented and enforced emphasizes that, a strong rule of law requires that regulations and administrative provisions are enforced effectively. According to section 6.1 of the index, the regulations should be applied and enforced without improper influence by public officials or private interests. When all these measures are properly executed, the enforcement of the fisheries laws could be an essential means to safeguard the long-term sustainability of Ghana’s fishery. The time is now!

BY Eunice Osei-Yeboah | Member: Sustainable Ocean Alliance Ghana

Climate & Ocean Action Home News SOA Ghana Fellows

Livelihoods affected, income truncated as catches turn plastics in Ghana

Ghanaian fishers would soon be forced to find an alternative or additional livelihood sources to sustain their families as a result of mounting plastic pollution along the shores of the country.