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Climate change linked to failing fisheries in coastal Ghana

Authors:
What is the issue?
Around the world, sheries employ millions of
people and make substantial contributions to
national economies and diets. In Ghana, small
scale sheries contribute 70-80% of the total
sh catch and provide a livelihood for about 2
million people, including around 135,000 small
scale shers (AGRER, 2011; NAFAG, 2014).
Furthermore, sh consumption provides 60% of
the nation’s protein requirements.
Hampered by minimal investments and limited
use of technologies, the small scale sheries
sector in Ghana is considered very vulnerable
and poorly adaptable to climate change
(Macfadyen and Allison, 2009). The sector is
highly dependent on natural marine productivity,
which in turn is impacted by climate
change. However, there is currently a limited
understanding of the present and anticipated
impacts (FAO, 2008; WorldFish Center, 2007),
which hinders the development of policies
to ensure that sheries continue to support
livelihoods and food security. In this context,
the IDRC-funded Climate change adaptation
research and capacity development in Ghana
project has provided evidence-based knowledge
to support the development of interventions that
could minimize climatic impacts on poor shery
communities in coastal areas.
What did we do?
The study covered the coastal area of Accra,
where small scale shing is the dominant
source of livelihood, especially for indigenous
communities. The project analyzed past
and future changes in seasonal patterns for
atmospheric temperature, rainfall, surface
Key messages
In the coastal area of Accra, Ghana,
sh catch has signicantly decreased
over the last two decades as average
sea surface temperatures have steadily
risen. For example, the catch of round
sardinella, a climate-sensitive species,
decreased by 75% between 1992 and
2010.
Fishers are becoming highly indebted
due to reduced sh catch, increasing
risks and growing investment costs.
With limited alternatives for livelihood,
small scale shers are highly vulnerable
to the impacts of climate change. New
livelihood options need to be identied
and training will need to be provided.
The end of the rainy season traditionally
signals the start of the main shing
season, but this is becoming
unpredictable due to variability in
rainfall distribution patterns, increasing
the risks of investment for shers and
exacerbating poverty and indebtedness.
The Marine Fisheries Research Division
(MFRD) and meteorological authorities
should intensify data collection and
monitoring activities, to improve
forecasting about the onset and
productivity of the shing season, and
should make this information available
to sherfolk.
January 2015
O. Pabi, S.N.A. Codjoe, N.A. Sah and
I. Appeaning Addo
Climate change linked
to failing sheries in
coastal Ghana
1
© O. Pabi and J.E.K. Akubia
temperature of seawater and sh catch. A
mathematical model was then applied to use
seawater temperature as an indicator of sh food
availability.
Three sh species of commercial importance
were studied, all of which have different
sensitivities to atmospheric and seawater
temperature changes. These include round
sardinella, at sardinella and anchovy. The
research team also conducted interviews with
a number of key stakeholders to seek their
knowledge, perceptions and observations on
changes in climate, impacts on sh catch and
related activities, and existing coping strategies.
Interviewed stakeholders include representatives
from the National Canoe Fishermen Council,
National Fisheries Association of Ghana
(NAFAG), MFRD, shermen and women working
in sh preservation, processing and sales.
What did we learn?
There has been a steady rise in atmospheric
and sea water temperatures since the 1960s,
with the latter increasing by an average of
0.011oC yearly.
The main shing season, which lasts for an
average of three months, contributes up to
60% of total annual sh catch. Since the
early 1990s, however, sh catch has been
steadily declining. For instance, the annual
catch of round sardinella has decreased by
nearly 75% between the years 1992 and 2010.
Fishers are losing income and falling into
debt, due to reduced sh catch, rising
investment costs, and increasing risk of
lost investment. Alternative livelihoods are
limited, making shers more vulnerable to
the negative impacts of climate on sheries.
In response, the National Canoe Fishermen
Council plans to initiate a lending scheme
to assist its members in ensuring that daily
needs are met.
Fish catch is strongly related to surface water
and atmospheric temperatures; generally,
the lower the temperatures, the higher the
sh catch. This does vary somewhat across
species, however: the catch for round
sardinella peaks when sea water temperature
is at its lowest, the catch for anchovy peaks
when sea water temperature is at its highest
during the main shing season, yet no visible
pattern has been observed between sea water
2
Figure 1: Fish catch generally peaks when the surface temperature of sea water is lowest during the
shing season (with the exception of some species, such as anchovy, for which the opposite occurs).
This is indicative of the sensitivity of sh populations to climate change
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Sea surface temperature (°C)
Catch (tons)
In the coastal area of Accra small scale shing
is the dominant source of livelihood
© O. Pabi and J.E.K. Akubia
Banks are now more willing to grant them loans,
since repayment levels tend be higher when
individuals are subject to group pressure. The
cooperative initiative also brings the benets of
a social network, helping the women to expand
their businesses.
“It is not only about the loans. Getting sh from
other places too is important and you need to
make arrangements with shermen in other
places to get sh at a good price. Through the
group connections we are able to purchase
sh from other areas. Now that we are going to
start using the sh smoking facilities that RIPS is
constructing we will be able to preserve greater
quantities of sh at a time and sell it over a longer
period of time.”
Awonye, Fishmonger, Ussher Town
What are the policy
implications?
The National Canoe Fishermen Association
and the MFRD need to collaborate to
sensitize and educate shers about the
impacts of climate change on small scale
sheries, and the need to reduce vulnerability
by diversifying their livelihood base. Efforts
should build on the shers’ knowledge to
enable more accurate predictions about the
start and productivity of the shing season.
Local governments should initiate programs
to train shers in alternative livelihoods,
in order to reduce their dependence on
small scale sheries. This should be done
in collaboration with relevant NGOs,
government agencies and the private sector.
The MFRD and the Meteorological
Department should intensify data collection
temperature and catch for at sardinella.
Therefore, changing sea water temperatures is
expected to impact the catch of these species
differently.
Fishers traditionally use the end of the rainy
season to predict the start of the shing
season. However, increasing variability
in rainfall patterns is making it difcult to
forecast the onset and productivity of the
shing season.
Stories of change
The coastal community of Ussher Town in
Accra is looking to minimize the impact of
dwindling sh catch on livelihoods, drawing
on the research ndings from this project.
The research team at the Regional Institute for
Population Studies (RIPS) has been supporting the
community through the construction of two sh
smoking facilities, to improve sh preservation
and secure better prices for sh during the off-
season. This will improve incomes, especially
for women, who are involved in the preservation
portion of the value chain.
The Ussher Town Community Climate Change
Club (UTCCC) has been created and includes
over 150 community members. As a result of the
club’s activities, there is increased awareness of
climate change impacts on shing livelihoods
and the need for community mobilization as
a means to reduce the vulnerability of those
who depend on sh. For instance, women
who in the past worked individually from their
homes have since started working together in
a cooperative, which has a range of benets.
3
Fish catch in the study area has decreased
signicantly over the last 20 years
© Moses Melphis Abaidoo
Figure 2: The catch for round sardinella and
anchovy peaks when atmospheric temperature is
lowest. It is not clear how temperature variation
impacts the catch for at sardinella.
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Round SardFlat SardAnchovy
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Minimum atmospheric temperature (°C)
Catch (tons)
Month
21
23
25
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Temperature
and monitoring activities to enhance capacity
for accurate forecasting and communication
relating to the start and anticipated
productivity of the shing season.
What next?
Additional research is needed to build
understanding of the barriers limiting the
adoption of alternative livelihoods by
sher communities. This would inform
interventions and incentives that could help
people reduce their dependence on small
scale sheries as a source of livelihood.
There is a need to investigate community
and scientic knowledge in order to develop
indicators and strategies for monitoring,
forecasting and communicating the start and
productivity of shing seasons. Improved
forecasting will enable shers to maximize
their catch during the shing season and
reduce their risk of lost investment in the
shing business.
Further studies are needed on the impacts
of climate change on small scale sheries
in other coastal shing areas, which have
different circumstances and dynamics. This
will inform broader policy frameworks to
reduce the sensitivity of small scale sheries
to climate change at the national level.
Need more information?
Dr Pabi Opoku
Institute of Environment and Sanitation Studies
University of Ghana
oppabi@gmail.com
Prof Samuel Nii Ardey Codjoe
Regional Institute for Population Studies,
University of Ghana
scodjoe@ug.edu.gh
Website: http://rips-ccartcd.org/
@RIPSCCARTCD2013
4
AGRER. (2011) Final Technical Report: Formulation of
Implementing Text of the Draft Fisheries Legislation in
Benin and Review and Up-Dating of the Marine Fisheries
Master Plan in Ghana. Brussels, Belgium: ACP Fish II.
http://bit.ly/12jXERo.
FAO. (2008) Climate change implications for sheries and
aquaculture. In: FAO, The State of World Fisheries and
Aquaculture 2008. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations, pp. 87-91.
http://bit.ly/1HRjnRP.
WorldFish Center. (2007) The Threat to Fisheries and
Aquaculture from Climate Change. Penang, Malaysia:
The WorldFish Center. http://bit.ly/1wSwVHO.
Macfadyen, G. and Allison, E. (2009) Climate Change,
Fisheries, Trade and Competitiveness: Understanding
Impacts and Formulating Responses for Commonwealth
Small States. London, UK: Commonwealth Secretariat.
http://bit.ly/1B7EVbW.
NAFAG. Background. National Fisheries Association of
Ghana. Available from: http://bit.ly/1GOqNoi.
NAFAG. Types of Fisheries. National Fisheries Association of
Ghana. Available from: http://bit.ly/1tGe90c.
References
This brief reports on research supported by the International Development Research Centre’s Climate Change and Water program, with
funds from the Government of Canada’s fast start climate nance: www.idrc.ca/ccw.
Produced by WRENmedia in January 2015.
International Development Research Centre
Ce
ntre de recherches pour le développement international
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DecNovOctSeptAugJulyJuneMay AprilMarFebJan
Round SardFlat SardAnchovy
Month
Rainfall
0
50
100
150
200
250
Catch (tons)
Rainfall (mm)
Figure 3: Fishers use the end of the rainy
season as an indicator for the start of the
shing season. Variability in the timing of
rainfall cessation has introduced
uncertainty in sher predictions.
... Ghana's marine fisheries are suffering a major crisis of overfishing that has been brewing for decades and is starting to generate a significant impact on Ghanaian society (e.g. Atta-Mills et al., 2004;Pabi et al., 2014;Ofori-Danson and Nunoo, 2015). Small scale or artisanal fisheries contribute 70-80% of the total fish catch and provide a livelihood for some 2 million people, including around 135,000 small scale fishers (NAFAG, 2014;Pabi et al., 2014). ...
... Atta-Mills et al., 2004;Pabi et al., 2014;Ofori-Danson and Nunoo, 2015). Small scale or artisanal fisheries contribute 70-80% of the total fish catch and provide a livelihood for some 2 million people, including around 135,000 small scale fishers (NAFAG, 2014;Pabi et al., 2014). The longterm decline in fish stocks, and especially of small pelagic fishes such as round sardinella (Sardinella aurita), flat sardinella (S. maderensis), anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolis) and chub mackerel (Scomber colias) have been blamed both on climate change and over-exploitation following misguided fishing practices (Atta-Mills et al., 2004;Pabi et al., 2014;Lazar et al., 2017). ...
... Small scale or artisanal fisheries contribute 70-80% of the total fish catch and provide a livelihood for some 2 million people, including around 135,000 small scale fishers (NAFAG, 2014;Pabi et al., 2014). The longterm decline in fish stocks, and especially of small pelagic fishes such as round sardinella (Sardinella aurita), flat sardinella (S. maderensis), anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolis) and chub mackerel (Scomber colias) have been blamed both on climate change and over-exploitation following misguided fishing practices (Atta-Mills et al., 2004;Pabi et al., 2014;Lazar et al., 2017). ...
Preprint
Full-text available
One of the largest documented takes of small cetaceans in western Africa occurs in Western regional coastal waters of Ghana. This temporally coincided with steadily decreasing catches of finfish, especially small pelagics (sardinellas, anchovies, mackerel) over the past two decades, attributed to both climate change and indiscriminate exploitation methods. Dixcove, a key fishing port for cetacean landings was surveyed during 96 days between 12 September-17 December 2018. Our goal was to update insights from earlier surveys, especially on catch rates, catch per unit effort and species composition. A total of 57 delphinids of 10 species were observed landed.
... Ghana's marine fisheries are suffering a major crisis of overfishing that has been brewing for decades and is starting to generate a significant impact on Ghanaian society (e.g. Atta-Mills et al., 2004;Pabi et al., 2014;Ofori-Danson and Nunoo, 2015). Small scale or artisanal fisheries contribute 70-80% of the total fish catch and provide a livelihood for some 2 million people, including around 135,000 small scale fishers (NAFAG, 2014;Pabi et al., 2014). ...
... Atta-Mills et al., 2004;Pabi et al., 2014;Ofori-Danson and Nunoo, 2015). Small scale or artisanal fisheries contribute 70-80% of the total fish catch and provide a livelihood for some 2 million people, including around 135,000 small scale fishers (NAFAG, 2014;Pabi et al., 2014). The longterm decline in fish stocks, and especially of small pelagic fishes such as round sardinella (Sardinella aurita), flat sardinella (S. maderensis), anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolis) and chub mackerel (Scomber colias) have been blamed both on climate change and over-exploitation following misguided fishing practices (Atta-Mills et al., 2004;Pabi et al., 2014;Lazar et al., 2017). ...
... Small scale or artisanal fisheries contribute 70-80% of the total fish catch and provide a livelihood for some 2 million people, including around 135,000 small scale fishers (NAFAG, 2014;Pabi et al., 2014). The longterm decline in fish stocks, and especially of small pelagic fishes such as round sardinella (Sardinella aurita), flat sardinella (S. maderensis), anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolis) and chub mackerel (Scomber colias) have been blamed both on climate change and over-exploitation following misguided fishing practices (Atta-Mills et al., 2004;Pabi et al., 2014;Lazar et al., 2017). ...
Preprint
One of the largest documented takes of small cetaceans in western Africa occurs in Western regional coastal waters of Ghana. This temporally coincided with steadily decreasing catches of finfish, especially small pelagics (sardinellas, anchovies, mackerel) over the past decades, attributed to both climate change and indiscriminate exploitation methods. Dixcove, a key fishing port for cetacean landings was surveyed during 96 days between 12 September -17 December 2018. Our goal was to update insights from our earlier surveys, especially on catch rates, catch per unit effort and species composition. A total of 57 delphinids of 10 species were observed landed: Stenella attenuata (28.1%), Stenella clymene (17.5%), Lagenodelphis hosei (10.5%), Steno bredanensis (10.5%), unidentified stenellids (8.8%), Grampus griseus (3.5%), Delphinus sp. (3.5%), Pseudorca crassidens (3.5%) and single specimens of Tursiops truncatus , Stenella longirostris and Stenella frontalis. The observed cetacean catch per diem (cpd =0.59) at Dixcove was low compared to earlier rates for this port ( e.g. cpd =2.82, in 2013-2014). However, fishing effort, measured as the number of canoes landing per diem (range 0-25; mean= 8.82 ± 6.05; n=22) was also reduced. Poor fish catches forced many canoes to remain in port. The prevalence in landings of common bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins has significantly decreased in the period 2000-2018. The prevalence of Fraser's dolphins and false killer whales increased. Indications are that a higher proportion of cetacean carcasses may be utilised offshore as shark bait. Hooks baited with cetacean parts are deployed in auxiliary longlines set longside large-mesh drift gillnets with a shark aggregating purpose, a first report in Africa. Shore-based incidental sightings of humpback whales suggest the potential for small scale whale-watching ecotourism in Ghanaian coastal waters, as pertains in the nearby waters of the Republic of Benin.
... Ghana's marine fisheries are suffering a major crisis of overfishing that has been brewing for decades and is starting to generate a significant impact on Ghanaian society (e.g. Atta-Mills et al., 2004;Pabi et al., 2014;Ofori-Danson and Nunoo, 2015). Small scale or artisanal fisheries contribute 70-80% of the total fish catch and provide a livelihood for some 2 million people, including around 135,000 small scale fishers (NAFAG, 2014;Pabi et al., 2014). ...
... Atta-Mills et al., 2004;Pabi et al., 2014;Ofori-Danson and Nunoo, 2015). Small scale or artisanal fisheries contribute 70-80% of the total fish catch and provide a livelihood for some 2 million people, including around 135,000 small scale fishers (NAFAG, 2014;Pabi et al., 2014). The long-term decline in fish stocks, and especially of small pelagic fishes such as round sardinella (Sardinella aurita), flat sardinella (S. maderensis), anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolis) and chub mackerel (Scomber colias) have been blamed both on climate change and over-exploitation following misguided fishing practices (Atta-Mills et al., 2004;Pabi et al., 2014;Lazar et al., 2017). ...
... Small scale or artisanal fisheries contribute 70-80% of the total fish catch and provide a livelihood for some 2 million people, including around 135,000 small scale fishers (NAFAG, 2014;Pabi et al., 2014). The long-term decline in fish stocks, and especially of small pelagic fishes such as round sardinella (Sardinella aurita), flat sardinella (S. maderensis), anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolis) and chub mackerel (Scomber colias) have been blamed both on climate change and over-exploitation following misguided fishing practices (Atta-Mills et al., 2004;Pabi et al., 2014;Lazar et al., 2017). ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The largest documented takes of small cetaceans in western Africa occur in coastal waters off Western Region, Ghana. This has temporally coincided with steadily decreasing catches of finfish, especially small pelagics, over the past decade, attributed to both climate change and indiscriminate exploitation methods. Dixcove, a key fishing port, was surveyed for cetacean landings during 22 days in September 2018, to update earlier data on numbers taken and species composition. Nine delphinids of five species were landed, including Fraser's dolphin, Risso's dolphin, spinner dolphin, rough-toothed dolphin and a Stenella sp. The observed cetacean catch per diem (CPD=0.41) was markedly below historical rates for this port (e.g. CPD= 2.82, in 2013-2014). However, fishing effort measured as the number of canoes landing per diem (range 0-25; mean= 8.82, SD= 6.05; n=22), was also reduced. Poor finfish catches and a shortage of (expensive) fuel seem to have kept many canoes, inactive, at the port. Some indications suggest that a higher % than before of cetacean carcasses are not landed but rather are cut-up offshore for bait in the shark fishery. Reportedly, baited hooks are deployed in auxiliary longlines set alongside drift gillnets with a shark aggregating purpose. This is the first time that this technique is reported in the Gulf of Guinea. Preliminary results suggest the observed pattern of reduced landings, including of dolphins, may be continuing into October-November 2018. Shore-based incidental sightings of humpback whales raise the question whether small-scale commercial whale-watching may be viable, as it is in Benin.
... Therefore, changing sea water temperature is expected to impact the catch of these species differently. Please see Pabi et al. (2014) for more details. ...
Book
Full-text available
Addressing climate change in any given context will require information and understanding of the nature, causative factors and the extent of the impact, in order to develop strategies to curb the menace. In developing the strategy, it is important to review the current knowledge on climate change with respect to health, livelihoods, gender and policies involving a wide range of disciplines such as sociology, geography, economics, among others. The climate change knowledge accumulated by these different disciplines in Ghana is scattered in many reports and not easily accessible to interested parties. For several years scientists and researchers in Ghana have engaged in climate change and variability research, mainly out of their individual initiatives or supported in a limited way by some funding agencies. The findings are reported mainly in project reports, theses and dissertations or in limited cases in conference proceedings and journals. In the University of Ghana, climate researchers are scattered in many Departments and Institutes. It is the aim of this book to review and summarize these works, with the view of providing the reader with a one stop shop of some of the major findings. The book would be useful for tertiary-level agricultural, environmental science and geography students, as well as environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Government Agencies interested in the development of climate compatible technologies and policies. Readers would also catch a glimpse of the progress, gaps and challenges that still lie ahead in climate change research in Ghana.
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