The Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Ministry (MoFAD) has launched Canoe Identification Card (CIC) for easy identification of all operational canoes in the fisheries sector.
The cards will bear Unique Response codes that are readable with a mobile phone application.
The cards contain basic information such as the name of canoe owner, canoe number, name, length and gear type used.
The exercise is aimed at regulating access to the country’s fishery resource and improving management of the sector.
It will also make it possible for the Fisheries Commission in collaboration with fishers, particularly, Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council to put in place interventions to transform the marine artisanal fisheries from open access regime, laying the foundation of moving the artisanal subsector towards sustainability and profitability.
Sector Minister, Elizabeth Afoeley-Quaye speaking at the launch at Keta, in the Keta Municipality of the Volta Region said the CIC would provide recognition and legitimacy to all canoe owners and help government adequately plan its provision of social and economic interventions and incentives for them.
She said the CIC was another intervention aimed at addressing the “Tragedy of the Commons” situation that persisted in the marine artisanal sector, adding “this card marks the end to Ghana’s open-access fisheries.”
The Minister said the issuance of the card as stated in the 2020 Budget Statement and the Economic Policy was also to ensure effective distribution of premix fuel in fishing communities and has therefore directed that “in pursuit of transparency and following the distribution of the card to all registered canoes, the Landing Beach Committee must ensure that distribution is made only to operators who possess the card.”
She said the success of the card would largely depend on total commitment of the fishers to comply with rules and regulations underpinning it and therefore called on the Fisheries Commission to ensure effective monitoring and enforcement.
Mrs Afoeley-Quaye said the second phase of the exercise would focus on piloting a digitised system in managing distribution and sale of premix fuel, which would serve as a measure to protect the public purse so that the intended users could benefit from the incentive.
Ms Matilda Quist, Head of Marine Fisheries Management Division, Fisheries Commission, said the groundwork for the CIC started in 2013 with development of web-based vessel Registry System with support from the World Bank under the West Africa Regional Fisheries programme (WARFP), which later led to the canoe registration and embossment as a primary step towards addressing Ghana’s open access regime and overcapacity.
She said though the exercise encountered some challenges at the initial stage, support from the USAID Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP) made it possible for them to create fisher to fisher dialogue and also connect ideas and voices of all fishers including; resource managers.
Ms Quist said conceptualisation of the CIC came in 2017 when the exercise was faced with another challenge such as double registration, registration of inactive canoes and registration of non-existing canoes, which also called for cleaning of the register in 2018 and led to reduction of canoes from 15,000 to 13,600.
Amber Lily Kenny, USAID, Ghana Agricultural Team Leader said fisheries management was vital for Ghana and the world because of the crucial role it played in supporting lives, providing employment, and driving socio-economic development.
She commended the Ministry for taking critical steps to improve the country’s fishing sector and the media for highlighting major issues in the sector through fact-based reporting.
Mr Nana JoJo Solomon, Member of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council (GNCFC) said the Council would collaborate with the Fisheries Commission for successful implementation of the regulatory functions of the CIC.
The launch was on the theme: “Towards Profitable and Sustainable and Management of Ghana’s fisheries Resources.”