Ocean Conservation SOA Ghana Fellows

Profile – Afedzi Abdullah

Afedzi Abdullah is an award winning Ocean and Environment journalist with over a decade of journalism. He has extensively written on the ocean, Fisheries and the environment.
Afedzi is a founding member of the journalist for responsible Fisheries and Environment and a Member of the Ghana Journalist Association.
Afedzi have been involved in training environmental journalists since 2017 and has attended several National and international conferences.
In 2018, he was adjusted best ocean reporter by Earth Journalism Network under its West Africa Fisheries Journalism project.

Afedzi will guide a team of journalists as part of SOA Ghana Reporting Hub 2 to produce impactful ocean related reports.

Climate & Ocean Action SOA Ghana Fellows

SOA Ghana announces second cohort of its ocean and marine reporting fellowship

The second cohort of 15 selected Ghanaian journalists for the Sustainable Ocean Alliance Ghana’s (SOA Ghana Hub) ocean and marine reporting fellowship has been announced.

The fellowship, which would focus on using data and storytelling tools to put the spotlight on IUU fishing and sustainable fishing practices in Ghana and across the continent, formed part of SOA Ghana’s project of using ‘Journalism to Counter IUU and marine pollution.’

The project is also part of the global effort to support and promote the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources in accordance with United Nations SDG14.

The selected participants are expected to report on issues confronting the ocean ecosystem between September 2021 to January 2022.

The fellowship started over the weekend with a training workshop which focused on preparing participants to understand the principles for securing equitable and sustainable fisheries in Ghana as well as how to effectively to use data in their reportage.

Speaking during the training which was held virtually, Mr Afedzi Abdullah, an Ocean and Environmental Journalist with the Ghana News Agency expressed the hope that with a renewed commitment from journalists in Ghana, more could be achieved in protecting the ocean and environment.

He gave an overview of Ghana’s fisheries, its key sectors and stakeholders, legal and regulatory framework as well as Fisheries administration and entreated participants to be acquainted with them as they report on the sector.

Mr. Prince Appiah of the Multimedia Group also encouraged participants to endeavor to use data in their reports for the desired impact. Marine Scientist, Eunice Osei-Yeboah also highlighted some major threats confronting the ocean and the important role journalists could play in protecting the ocean.

Hub Lead of SOA Ghana, Mr. Gideon Sarpong described the initiative an “important opportunity to educate, persuade, and influence ocean-related policy decisions by elevating ocean discussions to the top of the national agenda in Ghana.”

“The marine environment is under assault from overfishing, habitat loss, and pollution. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that one-third of wild fisheries are overfished and no longer biologically sustainable”

“The urgently needed solution calls for a combination of enhanced awareness and a significant national and international action on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. The time to take action is now,” he added.

The initiative is supported by the Sustainable Ocean Alliance through its Ocean Solutions Microgrants.

About SOA Ghana

SOA Ghana is a country hub of Sustainable Ocean Alliance based in the United States.

SOA Ghana focuses on deploying data, technology, and community-led solutions in dealing with marine pollution, protection of endangered marine species as well as promoting sustainable fishing practices in Ghana.

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.

Home News SOA Ghana Fellows

Unsung & undervalued: How a plastic waste collector in Ghana risks his life to defend our ecosystem

In a period where many cities and towns around the world are drowning in plastic waste, certain unsung men and women have emerged to not only rid our water bodies of plastic waste but also, to help prevent an irreparable damage to marine life, our ecosystem and future generations. These unsung individuals are ‘Plastic Waste Collectors.’