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Oiling The Fishing Industry

   Value of fish import trends from 2007 to 2015. [Trade Statistics Department, Ghana Statistical Service, 2016]
Ghanaians consume a lot of fish but a chunk of the fish is imported. The fishing industry is vital to the protein needs of Ghanaians. Ghana’s per capita fish consumption is said to be about 24 kilogram per year, higher than the world average of 13 kilogram. However the yearly production of fish has not been encouraging. Due to shortfalls in production the country reportedly spent over $649 million on the importation of fish from 2007 to 2015. Annual average production was 433,000 metric tons within the 2010-2015 periods.

   The sector experienced negative five-point-six growth in 2014. Is funding the issue in the sector? Are the fisher folks benefiting from the Oil and Gas revenues as captured in the Petroleum Revenue Management Act? As the nation approaches the 2016 general elections, GBC’s Correspondent Dominic Hlordzi visited some fishing communities to find out the challenges bedeviling the fishing industry juxtaposing them against the manifestos promises of some political parties and reports that investment into the fisheries sector over the years has not been inspiring.

     In 2015 out of the GH¢59 million representing 5.3% percent of the total Oil revenues allocated from the Annual Budget Funding Amount, ABFA to agriculture, the fisheries and aquaculture sector received GH¢799,000. 46,000 was spent on the rehabilitation of the Fisheries Lab at Tema while GH¢752,000 was used on the construction of the Fisheries College.

Has the lamentation of the fisher folks reached the politicians contesting the 2016 general elections? What plans do the political parties have for the fisheries sector? Will oil and gas revenue play a role in alleviating the plights of the fisher folks? “We are appealing to the government, the money we are getting from oil, we are not saying because the oil was found in the ocean, so we the fisher folks will have to benefit alone. No! It is a nationwide property so all of us have to benefit. If you go to the fishing communities we are the poorest.” Lamented Tema Newtown Chief fisherman, Nii Odamittey. “If we are part of the nation, they should remember us and give us some of the oil revenues.”Blackmore Yorhokpor, Fisherman at Kpong appeals.

“Given the strategic importance of the agricultural sector to the Ghanaian economy, the Public Interest and Accountability Committee, PIAC recommends that a sizeable proportion of future petroleum revenues higher than the 11 percent so far disbursed to the sector over the past five years should be channeled into Agriculture to help transform the sector and boost productivity.”

The NDC in its 2016 manifesto promised to eliminate the use of unapproved nets and unorthodox methods of fishing, complete the construction of landing sites, ensure adequate and timely supply of premix fuel, continue the expansion in cage-fish farming on the Volta Lake and other water bodies among other pledges. The NPP also promised to develop a sustainable fisheries sector by ensuring the availability, effective and transparent distribution of premix fuel to the fisher folks, eliminate import duties on fishing equipment, enforce the laws against per-trawling and other illegal fishing practices as well as build landing sites and storage facilities among other interventions when voted to power. The other political parties have also outlined laudable programmes for the sector.

Funding for these projects has not been clearly spelt out in the Manifestos. There is nowhere in the manifestos where the Political parties have strongly indicated their intention to use oil revenues to support the fisher folks based on the dictates of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act. But what are the real issues confronting the fisher folks? Take a listen to the audio report.

By-Dominic Hlordzi
hlordzidominic@gmail.com
Read more : http://gbcghana.com/1.10048341
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