Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, says illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing activities have contributed significantly to a decline in fish stocks in Ghana, and, as such, the nation has been compelled to spend some two hundred million dollars (US$200 million) annually to import fish to shore up the country’s fish requirements.
Speaking at the One Ocean Summit on Friday, 11th February 2022, in Brest, France, at the invitation of the French President, His Excellency Emmanuel Macron, President Akufo-Addo explained that the health of the planet and the health of the peoples of the world are inextricably linked to the health of our oceans.
“Seventy percent (70%) of the earth’s surface is covered by oceans, which account for the very origins of life, as we know it. The world’s oceans provide food and sustenance, mineral resources, energy, employment and livelihoods, transport and recreation. Acting as the lungs of the planet, oceans are responsible for some fifty percent (50%) of the oxygen produced on the planet, and absorb twenty-five percent (25%) of carbon dioxide emissions resulting from human activity,” the President said.
According to him, however, this God-given asset faces an existential threat, largely, from pollution and over-exploitation, and the world has to take decisive actions now to safeguard the ocean’s capacity to regenerate, and to continue to deliver substantial economic, environmental, and social value for human development.
“To curb the menace of illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing activities, a National Plan of Action is being implemented. Components of this Plan include fish catch certification, reactivation and installation of vessel monitoring systems (VMS), automatic identification system (AIS) on vessels, port and beach inspections, and sea patrols. We support the principle of a global convention in this area,” the President said.
He continued, “Together with our neighbours, the Republics of Togo and Benin, a pact has been signed to implement a joint fisheries’ observer programme, as part of efforts to ensure that safe, secure, and legal fisheries are maintained across the Gulf of Guinea. We are completing work on our Ocean Governance Study, and putting in place the requisite structures and processes to ensure that we complete our Sustainable Ocean Plan by 2025, as prescribed by the High-Level Panel on the Ocean Economy on 20th December 2021.”
At the continental level, President Akufo-Addo said Government is in the process of ratifying the 2012 Cape Town Agreement on Fishing Vessel Safety, adding that “I am expectant that Ghana will shortly deposit her instrument of accession. This will mark a major milestone in our endeavour to build a sustainable blue economy.”
Towards addressing the vexed issue of marine litter and plastic pollution, it will be recalled that Ecuador, Germany, Vietnam and Ghana, with support from the UN Environment Programme, last year, successfully convened the Ministerial Conference on Plastic Pollution and Marine Litter in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Ministerial Statement on Global Plastics Agreement, an outcome of the Conference, recognized “the need for further commitment and actions across the life cycle of plastics to address marine litter and microplastics, including through a circular economy approach.”
Ghana, the President reiterated, “shares in the vision of a New Plastics Economy, and will sign onto the initiative”.
President Akufo-Addo, thus, urged world leaders to commit to a greater course of action to support the attainment of SDG 14, “which demands that we conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. Let us all put our hands to the wheel, and take up the challenge for the sake of our common humanity”.