President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called on members of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), to work together to reverse the decline and restore the healthy production of the ocean and marine ecosystems.
President Akufo-Addo said Ghana supports the inclusion of all relevant stakeholders—governments, inter-governmental organisations, financial institutions, non-governmental and civil organisations, academia and scientific communities— in finding solutions to tackling the essential problems related to the ocean.
Speaking at the 7th Meeting of OACPS Ministers in Charge of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Accra on Thursday, President Akufo-Addo said climate change, which has an immense impact on the ocean, was not created or precipitated by the OACPS group.
Seventy-six per cent of global carbon emissions, he stated, emanated from the western nations, with all of Africa, responsible for less than 4 per cent.
Unfortunately, President Akufo-Addo said OACPS member states were victims of rising sea levels, desertification, flooding, cyclones, over gracing, migration, and dwindling arable lands, which are a result of climate change.
Conflicts, he indicated, had arisen out of these disasters and the conference needed to mark the turning point in the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean for present and future generations.
President Akufo-Addo said increasing scientific knowledge and developing research capabilities and transfer of technology in this endeavour would be crucial.
He said world leaders, hopefully in June, would gather in Portugal for the UN Ocean conference to propose and decide on additional drastic measures to tackle the emerging menace.
President Akufo-Addo said the 7th OACPS meeting had come at an opportune time as the global economy was reeling from the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as from the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Those developments, the President indicated, had shown how interconnected the world had become as no nation could have afforded to do it alone.
President Akufo-Addo said 70 per cent of the earth’s surface covered by the ocean provided food and sustenance, minerals resources, energy, employment and livelihoods, transport and recreation.
“Acting as the lungs of the planet”, he said the ocean was responsible for 50 per cent of the oxygen produced and absorbed 25 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions.
“Sadly, this God-given asset faces existential treats largely from pollution and over-exploitation,” the President stated.
President Akufo-Addo challenged OACPS member states, to take decisive action to safeguard the ocean’s capacity to regenerate and continue to provide substantial economic, environmental and social value for human development.
The United Nations has declared 2021 to 2030 as the decade of the Oceans, to help focus the energies of the world on how to access and harness sustainability, the enormous potential of the sea and ocean.
President Akufo-Addo said for many members of the OACPS, the ocean and its resources were pillars of their economies and sustained key economic sectors such as fisheries, tourism and transport.
Small island developing states and some African states within the OACPS, he indicated, had deep relations with the ocean as their economic well-being to food security were linked to the ocean.
In Ghana, the fisheries sector accounted for one per cent of GDP. It provided 60 per cent of animal protein intake and earned the nation some $190 million in export revenue in 2019, and supported some three million people along the fisheries value chain.
President Akufo-Addo said the essence of the meeting had far-reaching implications for eco-oceans system preservation, job creation, poverty alleviation and improved livelihoods economic stability and growth.
The meeting, he stated, should enhance coordination and corporation in the collective management and development of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors of member states.
“It should also provide the platform for the sustainable management of fisheries resources, obtaining optimum returns from fisheries trade, supporting the development of aquaculture and enhanced food security and preserving the environment,” he said.
The major focus of this meeting, the President noted, should include improved and sustainable fisheries governance through transparency, combating illegal reported and unregulated fishing and enhanced small scale fishing in member states.
“For us in Ghana, we are implementing a national plan of action to help curb the menace of illegal and unregulated and unreported fishing activities,” President Akufo-Addo stated.
Components of the plan include fish cart certification, reactivation and installation of vessel monitoring systems, automatic identification systems of vessels, port and beach inspections, and sea patrols.
Together with its neighbours—Togo, Benin—a pact had been signed to implement a joint fisheries observer programme as part of efforts to ensure safe, secure and legal fisheries are maintained across the Gulf of Guinea.
Ghana is also completing works on its governance on the ocean study in other to put in place the requisite structures and processes to ensure that it completes its sustainable ox team plan by 2025.
At the continental level, the country is in the process of rectifying the 2012 Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety and it’s expected to deposit its Instrument of Exertion.
That, President Akufo-Addo stated, would mark a major milestone in the country’s endeavour to build a sustainable blue ocean.
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD