FAO to help Ghana increase fish production By FRANCIS KOKUTSE in Accra | Thursday, December 12  2013 at  09:29

Infrastructure used to support fish farming, in Rwanda. PHOTO | FILE 

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has committed to assist Ghana increase cultured fish production, or fish farming, to 100,000 tonnes by 2016, up from the current production of 27,000 tonnes.

This is part of a national aquaculture development plan which will cost $85 million and save more millions in fish imports, according to minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mr Nayon Bilijo.

Speaking to the press in Accra, the minister said, “it is worrisome to note that in spite of the 50.2 per cent shortfall in our domestic fish requirements, post-harvest losses in the sector are estimated at 37 per cent.”

Mr Bilijo said the Ghana's fishing industry has been hit by a European Union ban on the country’s tuna exports because of the high rate of illegal and unregulated fishing in the Gulf of Guinea.

He noted that at “various EU border posts, consignments of processed and raw tuna from the sub-region were denied entry in February this year; due to this blockade, consignments from Ghana worth $30 million were affected.”

In order to resolve the issue, Mr Bilijo said the government is collaborating with the EU to produce a road-map for improving the processes of industrial fisheries operations in the short to the medium term.

A Fisheries Enforcement Unit (FEU) with a staff strength of 55 drawn from the Ghana Navy, Marine Police, Air Force and the ministry of Agriculture has been established and equipped with the requisite logistics to fight illegal fishing along the country’s coast.

The government has also started a project to provide refrigerators for artisanal fishermen along the coastline in addition to the construction of cold stores to store fish to prevent losses after bumper catches.