Sustainable development of the Ghanian fisheries sector

Start date: 14 February, 2012 End date: 21 March, 2012 Project type: Master's Thesis (prior to 2018) Project code: A16819 Countries: Ghana Institutions: Roskilde University (RUC), Denmark Grant recipient: Helga Mathiassen and Anders Barfod Total grant: 15,251 DKK


The Ghanaians has been a proud fishing nation for centuries and nowadays fish still is very important for the food supply. Fish account for at least 40 % of the animal protein supply and up to 20 % of the workforce is directly or indirectly employed in the fisheries sector. Growth in population and the implementation of an industrial fishing fleet has caused a huge intensification in the fishing effort during the past 50 years and now this makes its mark on the fish stocks. During the past ten years the catches have been declining for all types of fishery in Ghana. There is however an important difference in how the declining catches impacts the industrial fishery, mostly runned by foreign companies, and the small-scale fisher folk fishing from small wooden canoes and belongs to the poorest parts of the Ghanaian population.
The competition for the fish has been intensified and there is a growing demand for investigating how the scarce fish resource in Ghana should be prioritized and distributed in the future to contribute most to development and improvement of the livelihood of the Ghanaian population whereof 1.2 million people suffer from food deficit and even more live beneath the UN poverty line.
In this report it is investigated how the industrial fishery impacts the access to the fish resources for the local coastal fisher folk and how the declining catches affect the development in the livelihood of the coastal fisher folk. Furthermore a value chain analysis is carried out for respectively the small-scale and the industrial fishery and it is mapped how the benefit of the fish from the two sectors is distributed. It is concluded that the intensified competition for the fish and the declining catches - which to some extend is caused by the industrial vessels – have crucial consequences for the livelihood of the coastal fisher folk. Their livelihood depends on the fishery and decline in catches entails that the coastal population is much more vulnerable.
Fish caught from the coastal fishermen employs and makes up a livelihood for a huge amount of people. In the industrial sector fewer people are employed relative to the amount of fish they catch. The fact that the small-scale fishery is labor-intensive instead of capital intensive entails that the fish benefit more and poorer people. Also when it comes to the global distribution of the fish the small-scale sector benefit the poorest part of the population. Small-scale fish is processed and sold local and consumed within the country. Opposite a big share of the industrial caught fish is exported to industrialized countries. The export fish contributes not much to the local economy. One reason is that a part of the fish is not even processed within the country. Another reason is that foreign companies own most of the industrial vessels and they are the ones gaining from the export in stead of the Ghanaian population.