The Centre for International Maritime Affairs, Ghana (CIMAG) has reiterated calls for the formulation of an ocean governance policy to ensure the protection and sustainability of the country’s marine sector.
Mr Albert Derrick Fiatui, the Executive Director of CIMAG, speaking at a forum in commemoration of the World Oceans Day, said an ocean governance policy would help coordinate the many public agencies overseeing affairs of the country’s marine territories.
Mr Fiatui described as amorphous the current management of the ocean and the marine sector.
He said the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) was supposed to be the landlord of the ocean, while the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Fisheries Commission also had some oversight.
He said the National Petroleum Authority, the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation and the National Communications Authority also have a role in the management of the ocean.
However, the activities lacked proper coordination, making it difficult to determine who to turn to when issues arise.
Touching on some activities that affected marine life, he expressed worry over the deplorable state of the oceans in some of Ghana’s coastal areas as people litter indiscriminately along the sea.
He bemoaned the dumping of all forms of waste into water bodies, a situation that posed dire consequences to human and marine life.
“If you go to Nungua, there is a gutter that connects the Regional Maritime University to the sea. You will be shocked to find nose masks, refrigerators, lorry tires, and all forms of plastics,” he said.
He added that the danger was that when such items enter the sea, the fish ingest them, and consumers of such fishes get exposed to new diseases and cancers, among others.
He indicated that other activities such as the use of mangrove resources for domestic and commercial purposes by indigenes of coastal communities also have their challenges to the ocean, and, therefore, called for awareness creation as most people were ignorant about the effect of their activities on marine life.
Mrs Jewel Kudjawu, the Acting Director in charge of Natural Resources at the Environmental Protection Agency, on her part, disclosed that her outfit was partnering with the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation and other stakeholders such as the Fisheries Commission, and the district assemblies to develop an integrated ocean management policy.
Mrs Kudjawu said, “We have started working on it, we have a working group that has put the draft together. The draft will be taken to stakeholders to review so that they can make inputs, after which we revise, and submit to the Cabinet for approval.”
She said awareness of environmental issues was carried out among residents of the coastal communities, but some people have a poor attitude toward marine conservancy.
She said poor domestic waste management, indiscriminate housing projects and other human activities were rendering efforts to rid the oceans of filth futile.
Mrs Kudjawu revealed that the United Nations Environment Assembly had decided to introduce a legally binding document on plastics, and she expressed the hope that when implemented by countries would curb marine littering.
By Laudia Sawer