A Professor of Fisheries and Aquatic Science at the University for Development Studies (UDS), Prof. Elliot Haruna Alhassan, has called for increased investment in aquaculture development to feed the growing population in the country.
He said despite the increasing demand for fish and fish products, the sector had over the past two decades suffered a slow growth of about three per cent per annum, resulting in the importation of fish from foreign countries.
To address the situation, the lecturer suggested the implementation of a “One PVC fish tarpaulin tank for One household” policy to encourage backyard aquaculture practice.
“Relevant stakeholders should also control the illegal small-scale mining (galamsey) activities on our water bodies to help prevent pollution, siltation and the destruction of fish habitats” he added.
Prof. Alhassan made the call when he delivered an inaugural lecture on the topic: “Live below water: Development and trajectory of Ghana’s inland fisheries” in Tamale, the Northern regional capital.
The lecture, which was the 15th in a series by the UDS was attended by members of academia, civil society organisations, traditional leaders, the clergy and students.
Prof. Alhassan further said that studies on various water bodies across the country showed that fish catches had declined drastically in recent times partly due to illegal activities.
“A study was conducted on the Oti River at Agbasakope in the Krachi East District to assess fish catches in order to provide technical information for sustainable fishing and the results revealed that fishing gear such as atidza net, beach seine net, bamboo traps and gillnets were used to harvest fish,” he said.
The lecturer said such fishing gear did not conform to best practices for inland fish harvesting as stipulated by the Fisheries Commission and, therefore, called for strict enforcement of the ban in the use of unauthorised fishing gear.
Prof. Alhassan also attributed the wanton destruction of the environment and mineral resources in the country to poor resources governance.
“We can overcome this by including it in the curriculum of basic schools to inculcate in students the need to manage our natural resources sustainably for the benefit of future generations,” he said.
Given the importance of inland water fisheries in ensuring food security through enhanced livelihoods and improved incomes for households, the lecturer said that more attention must be paid to the sector.
The Vice-Chancellor of UDS, Prof. Seidu Al-Hassan, eulogised Prof. Alhassan for the inaugural lecture and for achieving a major milestone in his career.
He called on all stakeholders to join forces in the fight against the destruction of the environment, particularly water bodies, since human survival depended on them.