Accra, May 31, GNA - Despite numerous constraints plaguing the Fisheries Sector, it had been contributing more than three per cent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually, Mrs Gladys Asmah, Minister of Fisheries, said on Tuesday.
She listed the problems to include over-exploitation of existing marine and inland fish stocks and weaknesses in institutional capacity to regulate the Sector.
Fish exports in 2002 were estimated to have contributed about 96 million dollars to the earnings of the Non-Traditional Export Sector, she said at a day's workshop to sensitise stakeholders on the economic and social contributions of Fisheries to GDP and rural development in Ghana.
Mrs Asmah said the Sector played a major role in reducing poverty in fishing communities, adding: "Many poor and vulnerable people rely on the Fisheries Sector either directly as artisanal fishers or indirectly as fish processors, transporters and traders for their livelihood." She said the fishing industry provided employment to many rural people and urban dwellers, with an estimated 10 per cent of the population involved in fisheries activities.
Mrs Asmah noted that to address some of the problems facing the industry, the Fisheries Law was amended to make it more proactive and plans were underway to re-organise the Fisheries Commission into a more robust and dynamic organization for fisheries resources management. Dr Daniel Bruce Sarpong, Head of the Research Team, which researched into the topic, said there was lack of understanding and appreciation of the impact that the Artisanal Fisheries Sector made on the economy.
This, he said, had led to under reportage of the contributions the Sector made to the economy.
He said during their interactions with some selected District Assemblies in fishing communities in Tema, Asuogyaman, Gomoa and Kpando, it was revealed that fisheries contributed between five and 16 per cent of their annual revenue in terms of market tolls. He, therefore, called for the strengthening of the Department of Fisheries and the Accounts Department of the Ghana Statistical Service to enable them to come out with concrete figures to help in future research.
Mr George Hutchful, Deputy Director of Fisheries, said there was data deficiency in the Fisheries Sector that needed to be corrected to strengthen the assessment of contributions of the Sector. The workshop reached a consensus that those in fishing communities should be given alternative means of livelihood.