Business News of 2013-12-11

Gov’t to establish fisheries college

Government through the Ministry of Fisheries and Aqua Culture [MOFAC] is in the process of establishing a fisheries college at Anomabo in the Central Region, affiliated to the University of Cape Coast [UCC].

The move according to the Sector Minister for Fisheries and Aqua Culture, is to sharpen the skills and knowledge of major stakeholders in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors as well as facilitate and improve their technicalities.

The Minister, Hon. Nayon Bilijo, made these known when he made his maiden appearance to brief a cross section of the media of his Ministry’s contribution to the socio economic development of Ghana at the Meet the Press Series in Accra on Tuesday.

He disclosed that land for the project has been acquired and contract awarded for the construction of the first phase covering the administration block, hostel, lecture halls and laboratories, and that physical construction has begun.

As a government, we are aware of the potential that the fisheries sector has to contribute to the socio-economic development of the nation, he said.

He however pointed out that the sector has been bedeviled by certain challenges that are hindering it from achieving its optimal potential. He mentioned over fishing, excess catching capacity, depletion of some marine stocks, human induced changes in eco-systems amongst others as some of the challenges.

For the country to overcome these challenges and derive maximum economic benefits from the sector. He revealed that government in January 2013 established his Ministry to give policy and administrative direction for the formulation and implementation of programs to turn around the fortunes of the sector in the medium to long-term.

Fish is one of Ghana’s most important non-traditional exports as it generated about US$209 million in 2012 representing 1.65 contribution to the national Gross Domestic Product(GDP) as it is estimated that about 2.4 million people in the country are dependent on the sector for their livelihoods.

The Ministry, since its inception, is focused on building the requisite institutional and human resource capacities both at the Ministry and Fisheries Commission levels, for effective implementation.

Hon. Bilijo added that the Ministry is working in collaboration with the Public Services Commission (PSC) and the Management Services Division of the Head of Civil Service, to strengthen the Fisheries Commission to enable it perform effectively as a fully–fledged Commission as envisaged by the Fisheries Act 2002, Act 625 and the Fisheries Regulations [L.I 1968].

The Minister mentioned the Fisheries Enforcement and Fish Health and Sanitation Units as the Units that have been set up to strengthen the regulatory function of the Ministry.

In response to the blockade of consignments of processed tuna worth over US30 million from Ghana, the Ministry, he announced, in March this year set up a Committee to investigate the Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing by some Ghanaian flagged vessels at various European Union borders.

The MOFAC has since then put in place measures to prevent further occurrences of IUU fishing, Hon. Nayon Bilijo added.

His outfit, he said, has also engaged and collaborated with the EU and produced a road map for improving processes for industrial fisheries operations in the short to medium term plan.

"This includes Ghana’s ability to monitor, control and survey our waters effectively to prevent IUU fishing," he noted.

As a way forward, he stated that they, as a Ministry, are determined to explore innovative ways of funding and improving their activities and services.

To this end, he pledged his Ministry’s continuous collaboration with the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Local Authorities and tertiary institutions, to implement its priority programs to ensure that the sector contributes its quota to national food security and socio- economic development.

He further appealed to all stakeholders, organizations and the general public, for the necessary support and co-operation. He thanked the Ministry of Information and Media Relations for the platform given his Ministry to explain to Ghanaians their impact into the Better Ghana Agenda of the Government.