Domestic fish consumption has soared by about 10 percent within a year to further widen the gap between local fish production and consumption.
Ghana, which in 2013 imported half of its fish requirement, has seen imports increase by 10 percent to 60 percent in 12 months as local fish producers continue struggling to meet demands amidst declining fish stock.
Data available to the B&FT indicate that as of the end of 2014 fish consumption had reached a million metric tonnes, which is more than the 900,000 metric tonnes consumed in 2013.
Currently, only 400,000 metric tonnes is supplied from the country’s catches at sea and through aquaculture production, with the rest bridged by imports at a cost of US$200million every year.
Some dealers in the fish business are concerned that pair-trawling and other illegal fishing activities, as well as the current energy supply challenges, have had a significant toll on the country’s ability to meet fish demands.
Owners of Mankoadze Fisheries Company Limited, Ghana’s first private fishing company, are worried the present business operating environment is unfavourable to businesses in the fish sector.
Mr. Victor Seddor, MD of Mankoadze Fisheries Company Limited, explained to the B&FT that failure by government to enforce the Fisheries law, clear foreign vessels from Ghana’s waters, and also address the power supply challenges have put many local firms out of the fish business.
He lamented that the cold-store business is currently very difficult to handle, and as result most of the smaller cold-stores are folding-up — since their products are going bad and they do not have enough capital to purchase a stand-by generator and also fuel it to keep their products.
He said his company alone spends about GH?6,000 every two days on fuel due to the power outage.
He added: “There is low catch by our fishermen nowadays. An about-3,000 tonne capacity cold-store can go down as low as 28 tonnes content. This is not running the business economically; it is extremely difficult to either run or close down”.
He attributed the low catch in fish to the use of orthodox methods by our local fishermen; such as underweight nets, chemicals, and lighting devices among others.
“These actions by our local fishermen are not helping the country to meet its fish demand. We depend mostly on imported fish.”
Mr. Seddor called on the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture to with immediate effect implement the Fisheries Act to ensure discipline and sanity in the industry, and urged the ministry to endeavour putting a stop to or dealing with fishermen using illegal methods.
He appealed for government to facilitate measures which ensure power supply is normalised, in order to revive the dying fish industries and other ventures that are crying for survival.