Climate change taking toll on fisheries sector – Fisheries Scientist

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Ghana Tuna Association

Dr Jemimah Etornam Kassah, a Fisheries Scientist, has disclosed that climate change is taking a toll on the fisheries sector, with biologists now recording high incidents of tumours in fishes. 

“We see these days, as fisheries biologists, that you dissect the fish and you are recording higher incidents of tumours,” she said.

“Tumours, which used to be at a low level, are now very high. These and other issues come together to affect the sustainability of Ghana’s fisheries.”

Dr Kassah, also a lecturer at the Department of Biology Education, University of Education, Winneba, was speaking on the effects of climate change on Ghana’s fisheries sustainability during a Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) media forum.

She said the recent high temperatures in the country could affect the reproduction and survival of juvenile fish and hatched eggs.

‘’Because Ghana is a coastal upwelling nation, where coastal upwelling drives our fishing, if we have very high temperatures, it means that the strength of our upwelling will go down, and that will affect reproduction and survival of juveniles or eggs,’’ she said.

‘’This is because when the eggs hatch it means that the planting numbers will be very low, which will affect survival.”

Dr Kassah noted that as the oceans warmed, there would be changes in wind speed and wind directions, which carried away the young fishes after spawning (the laying of eggs by aquatic animals).

She said having warmer temperatures also resulted in migration of fishes into colder or deeper waters, which made them get out of reach, especially for artisanal fishermen.

“Currently, there are complaints that artisanal fishermen have to expend more fuel to go and harvest their stock, so the fish are literally moving out of reach of the fishermen’’.

That also caused conflict between the artisanal and the inshore or industrial fishermen because the artisanal fishermen moved into areas reserved for industrial fishermen, which led to misunderstandings and conflicts, she noted.

Dr Kassah mentioned sea level rise and storm surges as other effects of climate change, which had led to the disappearance of some fishing communities that were by the coast of  the Volta Region, stressing that more and more of Ghana’s coastal communities, especially along the eastern coast, had become very vulnerable to such sea level rises, and it was just a matter of time before they also disappeared.

She bemoaned the attitude of people towards contributing to the destruction of Ghana’s water bodies and sea, through indiscriminate disposal of pollutant, both plastic and heavy metals, as well as run-off from pesticides and weedicides used on land, ending up in the ocean.

Even though the country was doing so much in the sector, if such anthropogenic activities continued, they would have a deleterious effect on the ecosystem, which would affect both the ecosystem and the consumers, who are at the apex of the food chain.

By Laudia Sawer, GNA

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