The Export of Fish from Ghana

Located on the west coast of Africa, Ghana has a coastline that is almost 550 kilometres long. It is also home to Africa’s largest manmade lake, Lake Volta, while the Volta River basin is the largest in the country. Agriculture is the most dominant sector of Ghana that employs over 60 % of the country’s workforce and sums up to 45-50 % of Ghana’s GDP.

Fishing Industry in Ghana – History and Present

The former Department of Fisheries built fishponds in the northern part of the country in 1953, post which fish farming came into existence. Built to operate as hatcheries along with complementing the country’s demand for fish, it was also a way to generate employment opportunities for people. Communities that lived near reservoirs were taught fishing skills. After Ghana gained independence in 1957, the government launched various irrigation schemes and policies to develop fishponds to promote this sector.

Majority of Ghana’s fish farmers operate on a small scale, deploying extensive practices for fish farming. Based on marine as well as inland water resources, aquaculture and coastal lagoons, Ghana’s fisheries constitute 5 % of the GDP. Almost 75 % of the local produce of fish in Ghana is consumed, as the per capita fish consumption is 25 kg every year. Though relatively new, fish farming is spreading in the country, with fish being the most important non-tradition commodity of export in Ghana.

Ghana’s fish exports comprise of frozen fish, tuna, dried or smoked fish and cuttlefish, and they are usually exported to European Union countries. The largest tuna resources in Ghana are the Yellowfin. There are three sectors in the fishing industry of Ghana:

? Artisanal (small scale units) – The largest contributor to Ghana’s marine fish output, it yields 60-70 % of the total produce of the country and consists of canoes, of which most are made of wood.

? Inshore fleet (semi-industrial) – This comprise of wooden vessels built locally that have in-board engines.

? Industrial - Larger vessels with the latest technology comprise this unit.

The largest found and exported species in Ghana include anchovy, chub mackerel and round as well flat sardinella, all of which contribute to almost 70 % of the total marine produce within the country. Lake Volta is a stable and consistent contributor, accounting for almost 16 % of Ghana’s national output.

Ghana’s Fishing Industry and its Effect on the People, Infrastructure and Environment

The fishing industry plays an important role in the country’s economy. While accounting for 4 % of the country’s GDP, it also provides employment opportunities to the nation’s work force and is a major contributor to its foreign exchange. A large section of the impoverished people of the country is engaged in the fisheries sector. Over 150,000 fishers are said to be working in the fisheries, while over 500,000 people are engaged in related work such as the processing, distribution, and selling of fish.

Future Prospects of Fish Exports

Ghana has huge potential to increase tuna fish export to countries such as Japan, Singapore and Spain. The current data and statistics convey that tuna is the only resource that can be considered for significant expansion. The increase in export of high value species of fish may lead to a decrease in the availability of this fish in the local as well as the international market. This is also leading to a decline in the competitive advantage that the country has had in the past years. However, the fisheries sector of Ghana has substantial potential on which the various government-initiated plans and policies have been focused.


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