A temporal Fisheries Training Centre has been inaugurated at Tsokeme near Bortianor in the Greater Accra Region to improve productivity within the fishing sector.
The Centre would help train fish mongers and fish processors on how to improve the quality of fish sold on the markets, thereby reducing post-harvest losses and enhancing income along the value chain.
Ms Sherry Ayittey, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, who inaugurated the centre, said it was provided under the USAID-Sustainable Fisheries Management Programme (SFMP) for fish mongers of the District Action Association (DAA) within the Bortianor Fishing Community.
A permanent fishing training centre is scheduled to be constructed at Kokrobite, also in Greater Accra, next year to accommodate more fishers for training.
The current Tsokome fishing facility would, however, be turned into a model centre upon the completion of the Korkrobite centre.
Ms Ayittey said the fisheries sector made tremendous contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and national employment as well as national food security and nutrition.
She said the sector also generated over one billion dollars in revenue each year and accounted for at least 4.5 per cent to Ghana’s GDP while providing livelihood to an estimated 2.4 million people or 10 per cent of the population who were employed directly or indirectly.
Ghanaians are among the highest consumers of fish globally, about 20 kg per capita, which represents twice the world average and almost three times Africa’s average.
Ms Ayittey said, however, that there were some challenges confronting the sector and any efforts at improving skills of handling fish and adding values to it would bring considerable improvement in sector.
She commended USAID –SMFP and other partners like the Food and Agriculture Organisation and SNV Netherlands for the collaborations in ensuring that the fishing industry thrived.
She said the Ministry had developed Fisheries Management Plan for the Marine Fisheries sector with strategic programmes for addressing key managerial issues like reducing the current levels of fishing effort and fishing capacity, and improving information on fisheries biology and stock assessment to support a stock rebuilding and harvesting strategy.
The Plan would also ensure effective enforcement of fisheries legislation, protect marine habitat to conserve biodiversity and product certification and reduce post-harvest losses.
Ms Ayittey called on all stakeholders to collaborate and work with the Ministry and the Fisheries Commission to safeguard fisheries resources and enhance value addition within the sector.
“This will ensure that we continue to benefit from the fisheries resources and also bequeath posterity with a more vibrant and productive fisheries resources,” she said.
Mrs Lydia Sasu, the Executive Director of Development Action Association, thanked the Ministry for the seriousness it attached to the fisheries sector, saying DAA has initiated a strong collaboration with it where women in fish processing met the Minister once a year to discuss issues affecting their business.
She said the first batch of 30 women ha began their training at the Centre on topics like Improved Technology, Fish Processing, Hygienic Fish Handling, Alternative Livelihood, and Saving Culture.
Mr Brian Crawford, the Chief of Party of USAID-SFMP, said the technology being introduced to the fishmongers would help reduce fuel consumption and smoke in processing and improve financial input and output, thereby improving the living conditions of the women.
Nii Asase Ayitey, the Chief Fisherman of Kokrobite, expressed happiness about the project which, he said, had come to enlighten fishers about the proper way of fishing and fish processing.