The excessively high intake of fish among Ghanaians is one of the reasons the country has to import over 60 percent of its fish, according to the Co-convener of the Fisheries Alliance, Richster Nii Amarfio.
Ghana consumes over 950,000 metric tons of fish annually and had imported $135 million worth of fish in 2016 because of the reduction in the country’s fish stock.
There are fears the country may soon lose its fishing stock if nothing is done to overturn issues confronting its fishing sector.
During an interview on the Citi Breakfast Show, Mr. Armafio attributed the state of affairs to failings in the post-harvest chain which contributes to Ghana’s 25 million population having a high fish consumption per capita.
“The fish we consume in Ghana per capita is way in excess of the world average. We consume between 25 and 27 kg per capita. The world average is around 11 to 13 kg per capita. So we are consuming about twice the world average consumption and only a few people consume that fish.”
This lop-sided consumption can be corrected by investments into the post harvest sector of the fishing industry.
“We first need to look at the lopsided consumption in the fisheries sector and then develop a proper post-harvest sector that is able to attract investors into the country to now start the process of canning fish and if that happens, our consumption will go down and our earnings from the fisheries sector will grow.”
“ You can’t say that the 400,000 metric tonnes we are producing is not enough. It is the way we consume fish that is the problem because we have not developed the processes of storing fish,” Mr. Armafio added.
Impact of galamsey
Illegal mining activities have also contributed to this fish deficit as the inland contribution to fisheries “has completely been cut out.”
“People who were living in the North were depending on small streams and water bodies so they didn’t have to rely on imported fish but they no longer have those fishes, so they now have to rely on imported fish because their fish and water bodies have all been destroyed by illegal mining activities.”
Aside from this, Ghana is also missing out on fish production from lagoons and mangrove swamps in Accra because “they have become industrial sinks.”
“Go to Accra, all the municipal drains are channeled into one water body or another and so the quality of water that we require in the lagoons to produce the brackish fish; we are losing them.”