The FAO Representative to Ghana, Mr Ndiaga Gueye, says the contributions of artisanal fishers, especially women to the fisheries and aquaculture value chain, needed to be recognised.
He said the sector contributed significantly to the local economy and provided jobs for men women and youths alike.
Mr Gueye made the call for the recognition at the launch of the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (TYAFA 2022).
The initiative seeks to promote awareness about the importance of small-scale fisheries and aquaculture in Ghana and beyond, while providing the necessary platforms for State and non-State actors to deliberate and strengthen policy options for moving the sector forward through interactions that will empower stakeholders to act.
It is also to serve as a community of practice to showcase the code of conduct for our fisher folks.
More than 2 million Ghanaians being fishermen, processors and traders, and their dependants amounting to about 10 per cent of the population participate in this sector.
The FAO Representative said the IYAFA 2022 was an opportune time to acknowledge the artisanal fishers, who continue to contribute to the food security and economy of Ghana.
Artisanal fisheries and aquaculture are mostly practiced on small scale levels with players having relatively small production units with limited levels of technology, which comes with relatively small capital investment.
The activities of artisanal fishers, including fish processors, fish mongers and other value chain actors, are commonly managed at family levels or communal levels.
He said the works of artisanal fishers were done largely to provide food to the community while providing livelihoods and jobs for actors along the value chain.
Mr Gueye said though the importance and value of artisanal fisheries and aquaculture could not be over-emphasised it had not garnered the necessary recognition it duly deserves globally.
He said the launch of IYAFA 2022 would leave stakeholders with a great sense of responsibility; “we all have diverse roles to play to make it a memorable year.”
He said it was important to advocate and promote programmes aimed at small-scale artisanal fisheries and aquaculture at the local governance level to improve their production abilities and widen their livelihood opportunities with the aim of expanding the local community and contributing to food security.
Has called on State actors and Development partners to take a renewed interest in small-scale artisanal fisheries and aquaculture in their development assistance for food security and nutrition, poverty eradication, and natural resource sustainability.
The FAO Representative said the Voluntary Guidelines would help to guide dialogue, policy processes, and action of all actors in the value chain at all levels, from local communities to global fora.
These guidelines will help to preserve our water bodies from the use of chemicals to catch fish at sea if fisher folks adhere to what the guidelines require of them.
FAO has supported the development of these Voluntary Guidelines and communication materials in some selected Ghanaian languages to facilitate awareness raising and training of stakeholders in the various fishing communities, which will bring to light the consequences of some behaviors and its negative impact on the aquatic system.
Mrs Mavis Hawa Koomson, the Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, expressed gratitude to FAO for the Technical Assistant Programmes extended over the years to the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector.
She said FAO past Programmes had yielded positive results in contributing significantly to food and nutrition security, sustainable livelihoods, and poverty eradication in the fishing communities of Ghana.
He said fish was a major component in Ghanaian diet and the average Ghanaian consumed about 24kg of fish annually, which was higher than the world’s average of 16kg, making it evident that fish was the principal source of low-cost protein in Ghana.
“Despite the risk and labour-intensive nature of their work, our gallant Fishers work tirelessly to ensure availability of fish all year round, hence the high consumption pattern of fish in Ghana,” she added.
By Morkporkpor Anku, GNA