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Effects of Decline in Fish Landings on the Livelihoods of Coastal Communities in Central Region of Ghana


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Fishing along Ghana’s coast is the main livelihood for local communities, and it contributes significantly to their incomes. Most of them get employment, food security, and access to better health care through fishing activities. However, the fishing industry has been saddled with many challenges in recent times, which has led to low landings. This study aimed to assess the causes and effects of the decline in fish landings on the livelihood of coastal communities in the Central Region of Ghana. The systematic sampling technique was used to randomly select 200 households from four communities. A questionnaire was designed to elicit information from fisherfolk based on Likert scale estimation. In addition, time-series data of fish landings and imports for 51 years (1976–2017) was used in the analysis. The results from the study indicate that fish landings are declining, and this is affecting the income levels of fisherfolk. However, the impact of income decline on the female fisherfolk is lower as compared to their male counterparts. To mitigate against dwindling incomes, the fisherfolk have adopted livelihood diversification coping strategies. The key livelihood options identified in the communities are masonry, trading, and commercial driving. The fisherfolk mentioned overfishing, pollution, use of smaller mesh size nets, and unapproved methods of fishing as drivers of decline in fish landings. This study recommends that mandated institutions with oversight responsibilities in the fishing industry should be strengthened to enable them to conduct their functions effectively, so, they halt the decline in fish catch.
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Coastal Management
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Effects of Decline in Fish Landings on the
Livelihoods of Coastal Communities in Central
Region of Ghana
Jones Abrefa Danquah, Charity Odumale Roberts & Mark Appiah
To cite this article: Jones Abrefa Danquah, Charity Odumale Roberts & Mark Appiah (2021):
Effects of Decline in Fish Landings on the Livelihoods of Coastal Communities in Central Region of
Ghana, Coastal Management, DOI: 10.1080/08920753.2021.1967562
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Published online: 29 Aug 2021.
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Effects of Decline in Fish Landings on the Livelihoods of
Coastal Communities in Central Region of Ghana
Jones Abrefa Danquaha, Charity Odumale Robertsb and Mark Appiahc
aDepartment of Geography and Regional Planning, Faculty of Social Sciences, College of Humanities
and Legal Studies, University of Cape Coast, Ghana; bDepartment of Languages and General Studies,
University of Energy and Natural Resources, P.O. Box 214 Sunyani, Ghana; cCSIR-Forestry Research
Institute of Ghana, P.O Box UP 63, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana
Fishing along Ghana’s coast is the main livelihood for local commu-
nities, and it contributes significantly to their incomes. Most of them
get employment, food security, and access to better health care
through fishing activities. However, the fishing industry has been
saddled with many challenges in recent times, which has led to low
landings. This study aimed to assess the causes and effects of the
decline in fish landings on the livelihood of coastal communities in
the Central Region of Ghana. The systematic sampling technique was
used to randomly select 200 households from four communities. A
questionnaire was designed to elicit information from fisherfolk based
on Likert scale estimation. In addition, time-series data of fish landings
and imports for 51 years (1976–2017) was used in the analysis. The
results from the study indicate that fish landings are declining, and
this is affecting the income levels of fisherfolk. However, the impact
of income decline on the female fisherfolk is lower as compared to
their male counterparts. To mitigate against dwindling incomes, the
fisherfolk have adopted livelihood diversification coping strategies.
The key livelihood options identified in the communities are masonry,
trading, and commercial driving. The fisherfolk mentioned overfishing,
pollution, use of smaller mesh size nets, and unapproved methods
of fishing as drivers of decline in fish landings. This study recommends
that mandated institutions with oversight responsibilities in the fish-
ing industry should be strengthened to enable them to conduct their
functions effectively, so, they halt the decline in fish catch.
Fishing in Ghana, like in many other fishing countries, plays a major role in the
sustainable livelihoods of many coastal communities (Asiedu and Nunoo 2013). Fish
productivity is a key component of food security at both local and global scales and
contributes to domestic food security and self-sufficiency, although this objective may
© 2021 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
CONTACT Jones Abrefa Danquah; Department of Geography
and Regional Planning, Faculty of Social Sciences, College of Humanities and Legal Studies, University of Cape Coast,
Cape Coast, Ghana
artisanal shing; coping
strategies; sherfolk; sh
decline; livelihood
conflict with the desire to earn foreign exchange (FAO 2016). It has been estimated
that between 93 and 97 million rural households in developing countries are either
directly or indirectly involved in fishing or the processing and marketing of small-scale
fisheries (Amevenku, Asravor, and Kuwornu 2019). The coastline of Ghana is about
five hundred and fifty (550 km) kilometers in length, stretching from Aflao in the East
to Half Assin in the West (Dadson, Owusu, and Adams 2016). The coastal zone covers
6.5% of the land area and is inhabited by a quarter of Ghanas population
(DeGraff-Johnson et al. 2010). The great majority of these coastal dwellers have their
livelihoods directly or indirectly tied to the artisanal fishing industry. The fishing
industry, which contributed about 7% to Ghanas Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in
the 1970s, declined to 4.5% in 2009 and further declined to its present levels of 1.1%
by 2016 (World Bank 2010; FAO 2016). This decline has been attributed to a combi-
nation of many factors, namely: overcapacity, illegal fishing methods, obsolete fishing
gear, poorly defined legal and institutional framework, ambiguous policies, weak insti-
tutions to ensure compliance of management requirements in the semi-industrial and
industrial fishing, climate change, and general open-access nature of fishing resources
along the Gulf of Guinea (Cobbina 2018; Akpalu, Eriksen, and Vondolia 2018; Lazar
et al. 2018; Hasselberg et al. 2020; Adom, Sekyere, and Yarney 2019) . The artisanal
canoe fishery sub-sector is limited by several factors, including the fact that sizable
catches occur only for three months (usually July-September), particularly for small
pelagic fishery leading to minimal monthly incomes from fishing (Dovlo, Amador,
and Nkrumah 2016) during the rest of the year. The peak population and reproductive
cycles of the pelagic fish depend on the major upwelling(food) movement of the sea,
which coincides with these three months in the year during the fishing season
(Atindana, Ofori-Danson and Brucet 2019; Nunoo et al. 2015) . The small pelagic fish
(e.g., Engraulis encrasicolus, Scomber japonicus, Sardinella maderensis, Sardinella aurita,
Trachurus trachurus, and Decapterus punctatus) constitute major catch of artisanal
canoe fishery (Nunoo et al. 2015) . The pelagic fish account for about 80% of total
marine fish caught in the country annually(Cobbina 2018; Lazar et al. 2018). The
small pelagic fish is important to artisanal canoe fishery, coastal economies, nutrition,
and food security, hence, they are described as the “peoples fish” (Hasselberg et al.
2020; Yamoah 2018). Marine stocks are overexploited by the industrial and semi-industrial
fleets leading to a decline of harvests from marine fisheries. For instance, between
2000-2013, marine fish production decline by 17%, according to the Ministry of
Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (Rurangwa et al. 2015). Fishing communities
along the coast in Ghana have benefited from the products and produce of fishing
over the years. However, the fishing industry has been saddled with some challenges,
including the high cost of fishing inputs, lack of capital, use of unsustainable methods
of fishing, and increased prices of petroleum products used for fishing. Although,
premix fuel and outboard motors used in the artisanal fishery industry are highly
subsidized. However, the administration of premix fuel has significant political influ-
ence, with members of a political party in power benefiting more from fuel diversion
(Akpalu, Eriksen, and Vondolia 2018). All these factors have led to the decline in the
fish catch (Nunoo et al. 2015; Dovlo, Amador, and Nkrumah 2016; Asiedu, Afriyie,
and Amponsah 2018). The use of unapproved fishing methods, overcapacity, and
noncompliance to regulations and policy directives have also contributed to the decline
in fish catch which affects the livelihood and income levels of fisher folks in the
coastal communities. This study assesses the economic effects of reduced fish catch
on households and their level of understanding of the underlined causes, as well as
available livelihood coping strategies at their disposal.
Conceptual framework
The interwoven nature of livelihood to the environment creates a delicate unstable
balance (Dai et al. 2019). As a result, any activity that causes degradation of fishing
resource stock directly affects the livelihood of the fisherfolk. Climate change and
other non-climatic stressors continue to impact the livelihoods of fishing communities
along the coast (Freduah, Fidelman, and Smith 2019). Coastal communities are sensitive
to several climatic events, biological, institutional, social, cultural, economic, anthro-
pogenic perturbations, and political stressors, making them more vulnerable because
of their dependence on fisheries for livelihood (Freduah, Fidelman, and Smith 2019;
Huynh et al. 2021). The livelihood framework provides a comprehensive and systematic
approach to the understanding of how fishing communities eke a living (Dinku 2018).
Chambers and Conway(1992) defined livelihoods as “the capabilities, assets, and activ-
ities required for a means of living”.
The conceptualized livelihood framework adopted in this study primarily consists
of eight components (Figure 1) (Ellis 1998; Scoones 2005, 2009; Freduah, Fidelman,
and Smith 2019, Dai et al. 2019; Ayana, Megento, and Kussa 2021). Vulnerability in
the context of fishing communities is the degree to which the fishing industry is
susceptible to adverse effects of climate change and other non-climatic shocks (Huynh
et al. 2021). The vulnerability of the fishing communities to both internal and external
stressors is the function of exposure and sensitivity to shocks. Exposure and sensitivity
always interact together to describe the characteristics of the fisherfolk to climatic and
non-climatic stressors. The degree of vulnerability is a reflection of livelihood strategies.
Adaptive capacity in the context of livelihood assets are the key components of capitals
(human, physical, social, natural, and financial) that can be mobilized by the fisherfolk
to strengthen their adaptation or adjust to the effects of climate and non-climate
stressors on their livelihoods (Freduah, Fidelman, and Smith 2019). The adaptive
capacity of fisherfolk is the total socioecological, economic, political, and biophysical
environment in which they operate (Smit and Wandel 2006). Adaptive capacity is a
reflection of fisherfolk’s capital stocks (Smit and Pilifosova 2003). Access to these
resources is the core component of the adaptive capacity of the fisherfolk (Jakku and
Lynam 2010). Livelihood assets (capital stocks) constitute diverse resources available
to fisher communities or fisherfolk that can be converted into income or serve as
insurance against adverse effects of climate change and non-climate stressors on their
livelihood. The core components of the livelihood portfolio are social, financial, human,
natural, and physical capital. Livelihood assets and their interconnection is the measure
of adaptive capacity and the level of vulnerability of the fisherfolk. The more asset
the fisherfolk have, the less vulnerable they are(Olajide and Lawanson 2014). Assets
endowment determine the livelihood options or strategies available to the fisherfolk
(Iiyama et al. 2008). The livelihood strategies at the disposal of fisherfolk involve either
using a diversified or alternative livelihood approach to reduce their level of vulner-
ability to shocks. Livelihood diversification within the context of fishing communities
is the process by which fisherfolk construct a diverse portfolio of activities and social
support capabilities to survive and to improve their standards of living (Ellis 1998;
Achiba 2018; Scoones 2005, 2009; Dai et al. 2019). Whereas alternative livelihoods are
sets of interventions or activities implemented to reduce the fishing communities or
fisherfolk over-reliance on fishing resources, generate economic benefits, and increase
local support for sustainable fishing resource management (see, e.g., Wright et al. 2016;
Figure 1. Conceptual framework of sustainable livelihood. Source: (Ellis 1998; Scoones 2005, 2009;
Freduah, Fidelman, and Smith 2019; Dai et al. 2019; Ayana, Megento, and Kussa 2021).
Hilson and Banchirigah 2009; Hanh and Boonstra 2019). From the perspective of
fishing and related allied industries, alternative livelihoods are designed to substitute
fishing activities considered to be environmentally detrimental and could impact the
fishing industry in the long term (Wright et al. 2016; Hilson and Banchirigah 2009;
Hanh and Boonstra 2019; Siegel and Veiga 2010; Wicander and Coad 2018). The
alternative livelihood approach involves replacing fishing-based incomes with other
sources (Hanh and Boonstra 2019; Roe et al. 2015). The alternative livelihood approach
is an effective way to reduce overexploitation of fishing resources and improve the
wellbeing of the users (Roe et al. 2015; Wicander and Coad 2018). Institutions have
the mandate to formulate policies, regulations, and laws that affect the major stake-
holders and small-scale artisanal fishers in the fishing industries as well as the coastal
communities whose livelihoods directly depend on fishing. Policies and institutions
influence the interconnections between livelihood assets and the adoption of appropriate
livelihood strategies, which ultimately can be translated into better livelihood outcomes
in the lives of fisherfolk.
Materials and methods
Study area
The study was conducted at four major fish landing sites in the Central Region of
Ghana, namely Elimina Anomabo, Apam, and Moree (Figure 2). The Central Region
has the highest concentration of fishing villages and landing beaches in the country
(Crawford et al. 2016). Elmina a major landing site (5° 5 N; 1° 21W) and the
administrative capital of the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem Municipal Assembly(Amador
et al. 2006). The average fish production in the district for the past five years is 10,571
metric tonnes per annum (Dovlo, Amador, and Nkrumah 2016). Moree (5° 8 N; 1°
12 W) is a coastal town in the Abura-Asebu-Kwamankese District. Moree shares a
boundary with the Cape Municipality in the Central region of Ghana. The major
economic activity in Moree is fishing, with some fisherfolk going on fishing expeditions
as far as The Gambia on the Gulf of Guinea. Anomabo (5° 10 N; 1° 7 W) is another
one of the fish landing sites and is located in the Mfantsiman Municipal of the Central
Region. The predominant occupation of the people in the town fishing, with a small
proportion of the community members engaged in low-level subsistence farming
(Akyeampong, Amador, and Nkrumah 2013). Apam (5° 16 N; 0° 44 W) is the admin-
istrative capital of Gomoa West District. The main occupations of the people in this
district are fishing and subsistence agriculture. The district is endowed with many fish
species of commercial importance, the predominant capture species are the sardinellas
(Akyeampong, Amador, and Nkrumah 2013; Dovlo, Amador, and Nkrumah 2016).
Data collection
A questionnaire (structured and semi-structured(open-ended)) was designed to obtain
qualitative and quantitative data on individual characteristics and fisherfolk’s livelihood
strategies or options. In addition, to elicit information to evaluate the underlying causes
of decline in fish landings in the country. The survey was conducted in Elmina,
Anomabo, Moree, and Apam in June and August 2019. These four towns and com-
munities were purposively selected for the fact that they are major landing sites in the
Central Region (Amador et al. 2006). Due to limitations of resources, other landing
sites could not be covered. The primary data collected through a survey within the
communities were augmented with secondary data from the Ghana Canoe Frame Survey
(Dovlo, Amador, and Nkrumah 2016; Asiedu and Nunoo 2013). In addition, other
secondary data were also obtained from the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Statistics
(FAO 2020) to strengthen the analysis. We used two time-series data: fish landings
data from 1976 to 2017 and fish import data from 1976 to 2017 in the analysis.
Sample procedure and data analysis
We employed two types of sampling procedures in the study purposive and systematic
sampling techniques. These sampling procedures were used to select 200 respondents
for this study. A total of 200 questionnaires were administered after pre-testing.
Although there are many landing sites in the Central Region of Ghana, the purposive
sampling technique (Maxwell 2013) was used to select four communities out of the
lot: Anomabo (N = 30), Elmina (N = 70), Moree (N = 30) and Apam (N = 70). The
Figure 2. Map of the study area.
rationale behind the choice of these three landing sites is primarily based on the level
of fishing activity and the role it plays as a major livelihood within the communities.
In addition, for instance, landing sites like Elimina and Apam have fishing harbors
and cold-storage facilities. Elimina and Apam are two major landing sites in the Central
Region. At the community level (households level), a systematic sampling technique
was used to select fisherfolk that engages in fishing and other related activities(e.g.,
Torell et al. 2010). This involved walking through the communities from the beach
(south) to the north using GPS. The first house encountered in the community is
selected, and the second, ignored, and the third is sampled in this sequence. Thus,
every third household or homestead was sampled from the south to north direction.
At the household level, respondents selected for the interviews were those with their
livelihoods and wellbeing directly tied to the artisanal fishing industry. The primary
data collated were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Cronbach Alpha test statistic
was performed to evaluate the degree of reliability and agreement in the responses on
the Likert scale estimation (Bonett and Wright 2015). In addition, the nonparametric
Chi-square test statistic of homogeneity was conducted on changes in income level
over the years. We performed trend analysis on export and landings of fish times
series data from 1976 to 2017. The XLSTAT add-on in Microsoft excel 2013 operating
environment was used in the statistical analyses.
The status of sh landings
The overall fish catch per annum varied over the period from 1976 to 2017. The
lowest recorded annual fish landing was 246601 MT in 1976. The annual fish landings
increased steadily over the years to the peak value of about 492,783 MT in 1999. Since
2000, fish landings in the country have been decreasing from almost 500,000 MT to
287,801 MT in 2014. The country has to resort to active fish importation to augment
the gap in the fish landings (see, Figure 3). In 2007 and 2013, the total fish imports
into Ghana exceeded total fish landings, to a total annual amount of approximately
Figure 3. Fish Import against Landings from 1976 to 2017.
328,888 MT and 347,408 MT, respectively. In 2013, Ghana imported 373 million US
dollars of fish to address the deficit in fish landings (GOG 2015). The phenomenal
general decrease in fish landings has been reported by artisanal fisherfolk in the
country (Asiedu, Afriyie, and Amponsah 2018). Moreover, this is also affecting their
incomes and livelihoods.
Changes in income over the years
From the results in Figure 4, 53% of respondents maintained that they had seen a
reduction in their incomes over the past five years as compared to 16% who recorded
an increase in their incomes over the period (Figure 4). 21% of the respondents
maintained their incomes have remained stable over the five years, and 10% of the
respondents could not give any directional change in their income levels.
These results were further subjected to a Chi-square test analysis by disaggre-
gating the dataset into gender, that is, male and female fisherfolk. The results were
significant at the 5% level of probability (Chi2 = 8.356; DF = 3; P = 0.039), 20
females reported an increase in their incomes compared to their 12 male coun-
terparts (Table 1). Moreover, 68 (34%) males reported a decrease in their income
compared with 38 (19%) females. 30 (15%) males and 12 (6.0) females fisherfolks
indicated that their incomes had remained the same over the five years. 16 (8%)
Table 1. Changes in income over the past ve years.
Male Female TOTAL
Increasing 12 (6.0) 20(10.0) 32(16.0)
*RESPONSES Decreasing 68 (34.0) 38(19.0) 106(53.0)
No Change 30 (15.0) 12(6.0) 42(21.0)
Don’t Know 16 (8.0) 4(2.0) 20(10.0)
TOTA L 126 (63.0) 74(37.0) 200(100)
*Chi2(8.356): DF = 3, P < 0.039; The values in parenthesis are in percentages
Figure 4. Changes in income in the past ve years.
males and 4 (2%) females of the 200 respondents maintained they don’t know
what has happened to their income level.
Contribution of shing to livelihood
The results revealed a high degree of consistency and reliability on the Likert scale
instrument used in the analysis. The Cronbachs Alpha (α) was 0.73. The four questions
were asked based on a three-point scale Likert estimation ratings; to elicit or evaluate
fisherfolk’s level of understanding of the socioeconomic contribution of the artisanal
fishing industry to their lives and the nation as a whole. To many of the respondents,
the highest-ranked contribution of fishing is revenue generation to the government
through taxes and foreign exchange earnings (Table 2).
Fishing as a key income source to the fisherfolks was ranked second, and its role
as a contributor to food security was ranked third by respondents. However, many of
the fisherfolks do not see fishing as a permanent livelihood that can offer continuous
employment as they ranked fishing as permanent employment as fourth in the order
of importance. This is highlighted by the fact that many of the youth are not taking
up fishing as a vocation as was the case in times past. The youth are getting an edu-
cation and leaving behind the traditional way of living through fishing and related
activities. This problem is compounded by an aging population of fisherfolk in the
fishing communities across the country (Asiedu and Nunoo. 2013).
Fisherfolk’s perception of changes in shing and causes of the decline in sh
In general, 82% of the respondents interviewed in the study areas have an opinion
that there has been a decline in fishing landings over the years (Figure 5). Yet, there
is a relatively low proportion (6%) of respondents who believe that fishing landings
are on the increase. 5% of the respondents maintained that fish landings over the
years had remained about the same. However, 7% were undecided. This group of
respondents could not say whether fishing landings are increasing, decreasing, or
remain the same. They have no idea of the current status or state of fish landings in
the country. Nevertheless, 20% of the respondents still believe that the quantity of fish
caught had declined due to overfishing, and 19% attribute this to poor management
of domestic waste leading to pollution of the sea (Figure 6). The respondents gave
various reasons for the decline in fish catch apart from overfishing which featured the
most. Some of the respondents maintained that a decrease in fish landings to
Table 2. Fisherfolk perceptions to benet from artisanal canoe shing industry.
Income to Fisherfolk 180 10 10 570 2
Revenue to Government 186 8 6 588 1
Food Security 100 78 22 478 3
Permanent Employment 124 16 68 472 4
NB: A = Agree; B = Undecided; D = Disagree; Cronbach Alpha = 0.73
unapproved or illegal methods of fishing, notable use of chemicals (15%). Others relate
the decline in fish landings to economic factors such as a decline in fish prices (12%),
high cost of inputs (10%), and inadequate storage facilities (9%).
Sociocultural factors were also mentioned by the respondents as contributing causes
of the decline in fish landings within the communities. Some of the respondents have
an opinion that there is a labor shift from the artisanal fishing industry to other
sectors of the economy since many fisherfolks are taking up other jobs as alternative
livelihoods (4%), getting an education (8%), and a generally poor attitude to work
amongst the youth (3%) were social factors mentioned by the respondents.
Livelihood options
As a result of the decline in fishing landings in the country, many people, particularly
the youth, are adopting alternative livelihoods, which often results in leaving the fishing
Figure 6. Causes of decline in sh Landings according to respondents.
Figure 5. Household perception to sh decline.
industry. Many of the fisherfolk switched to technical and vocational training. Those
who continue to engage in fishing and related activities diversified their livelihood by
having more than one income stream across fishing and non-fishing activities (Ellis
2000a; 2000b). The major alternative livelihoods within the four communities are
trading and commerce (i.e., buying and selling), mentioned by 36% of the respondents
interviewed in the fishing communities. Masonry (20%) feature as the second most
important alternative livelihood activity (Figure 7).
Commercial driving (16%) is another major choice of alternative livelihood amongst
the youth, particularly the taxi business. This is followed by carpentry (11%) and
hairdressing (10%). However, there is a relatively small proportion who depend solely
on fishing, thus have no alternative livelihood options (7%).
The decline in fish landings or catch is a major global problem leading to a collapse
of the fishing industry and loss of livelihood in most affected countries (Béné, Hersoug,
and Allison2010; Oliveira Júnior et al. 2016; Rahman et al. 2012; Scyphersa, Picoub,
and Grabowskia 2019). Ghana is no exception to this observed phenomenal decline
in fish landings. This has been reported by many authors in the country (Ofori-Danson
et al. 2012; Asiedu and Nunoo 2013; Atta-Mills, Alder, and Sumaila 2004; Nunoo et
al. 2014). However, in this paper, we explore the role of the artisanal fishing industry
within coastal communities and the impact of this decline in fish landings or catch
on their livelihoods, as well as the possible causes of the observed decline. The results
of the trend analysis confirm a general decrease in fish landings or catch from 1999
to 2017. This result is in line with a range of studies conducted by various authors
in the fishing industry (Tall and Failler 2012: Ofori-Danson et al. 2012; Atta-Mills,
Alder, and Sumaila 2004; Lazar et al .2018). However, fish landing saw a gradual
increase from 1976 to 1972 and 1983 to the peak production level in 1999. These
periods were characterized by robust fishing support services, with a thriving fishing
Figure 7. Alternate livelihood options.
boat building industry (Adjetey 1973; Agbodeka 1992). This was culminated by a
structural adjustment program (SAP) and trade liberalization in 1983 (Sensu, Barbier
and Benhin 2001). The Structural Adjustment Programme and trade liberalization
period led to issuances of more permits and licenses to foreign vessels for industrial
fishing and consequently the depletion of fish sock in the country (Atta-Mills, Alder,
and Sumaila 2004; Acquay 1992). Whilst fish landings were decreasing over the period,
fishing imports were increasing. Presently, annual fish imports exceed total fish pro-
duction in the country (Russell 2017; FAO 2016). These findings correlate with the
observations of the fisherfolk within the coastal communities that fish landings are
declining. Various factors have contributed to the decline in fish landings. The most
mentioned factors within the fishing community are the use of unapproved methods
in fishing. It is a known fact that most fishermen resort to the use of chemicals,
dynamite, undersize mesh size nets, overfishing, and trawler fishing (see,
Mutimukuru-Maravanyika et al. 2013; Falaye 2008; DeGraff-Johnson et al. 2010;
Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) 2015). These underscore
other factors such as institutional failures to regulate and enforce existing laws to
ensure compliance in both the artisanal and industrial fisheries subsectors of the
economy. The decline in fish stocks has led to the implementation of a closed season
policy to revamp the fishing industry in the country (Rosina 2018; Apetorgbor 2018;
Adom, Sekyere, and Yarney 2019).
Due to the decline in fish landings, the livelihoods of fisherfolk have been affected.
This has translated into low-income levels for households that have directly depended
on fishing over the years. It is not surprising that there are systemic and endemic
high levels of poverty in the coastal communities of Ghana (Asiedu 2012; Asiedu et
al. 2013; Lawson, Gordon, and Schluchter 2012). Over the years, fisherfolk have seen
a gradual and continuous decline in their income. This confirms the assertion by
many authors that the reduction in fish catch or landings invariably led to the reduc-
tion in the income level of the fisherfolk (Amponsah 2015).
Many fisher households have resorted to diversifying their livelihoods to cope with
a decrease in incomes. The purpose of diversification is to develop portfolios of
income-generating activities to safeguard the fisherfolk’s livelihoods against the risk of
external shocks (Ellis 1998; Achiba 2018; Scoones 2005, 2009; Dai et al. 2019). These
results corroborated many studies on this subject that livelihood diversification becomes
mainstream mitigation strategies of fisherfolk against the decline of fish landings
(Amevenku, Asravor, and Kuwornu 2019; Owusu 2019; Martin, Lorenzen, and Bunnefeld
2013). According to Torell et al. 2017, livelihood diversification is a means by which
fisherfolk can reduce vulnerability to risk and provide a pathway out of poverty. The
main livelihoods option adopted by fisherfolk in place of decline fish landings is the
trading (commerce), driving, and masonry. The adoption of a livelihood diversification
strategy to mitigate the decline in incomes can also be seen as risk management
strategies (Kadfak 2020 Achiba 2018; Scoones 2005, 2009; Dai et al. 2019). Livelihood
diversification strategies by the fisherfolk is an adaptation strategy to reduce their
vulnerability from declining fishing stocks (see Ellis 2000b). Diversification of liveli-
hoods entails both fishing and non-fishing activities(Sensu, Losch, Freguin-Gresh, and
White 2010). The study encountered situations whereby some fisherfolk see fishing as
a part-time engagement. Many youths in the fishing communities are pursuing
education and leaving the traditional vocation of fishing. This exit decision from the
artisanal fishing industry is primarily due to the decline in fish capture and low-income
rewards (see, e.g., Daw et al. 2012; Asiedu and Nunoo 2013). The decision to leave
the fishing industry is more or less the adoption of an alternative livelihood strategy
(Hanh and Boonstra 2019; Roe et al. 2015). Despite the challenges in the industry,
many fisherfolks still believe that it is a major contributor to the national economy
as a source of income to households and as revenue in the form of taxes and foreign
exchange to the government, as well as a key component in ensuring food security
and job creation within the communities. From a gender perspective, the impact of
the decline in fish landing is highly felt by the male fisherfolk compared with their
female counterpart. This stems from their social role and differentiation within the
fish value chain. Handling, processing, distribution, and marketing of fish for con-
sumption are primarily done by females (Failler, Beyens, and Asiedu 2014; Torell et
al. 2019). Thus, each level of the value chain improves the wellbeing of females through
additional income (Nunoo et al. 2015). This is because, at each level of the value
chain that fish product passes through, there is an appreciation in the value (Russell
and Haanoomanjae 2012). By comparison, the males are at the bottom of the fish
value chain and directly involved in the primary harvesting of fish, except a few who
are in the service sector (Torell et al. 2019). In Ghana, for the marine canoe or arti-
sanal fisheries, it is only the males who are directly engaged in fishing (Nunoo et al.
2015). It is not surprising that in this study, the results indicate that 10% of female
fisherfolk observed improvement in their incomes although fish landings are declining.
A study by Walker(2001) revealed that about 35% of females in the artisanal marine
fisheries value chain, particularly processing and marketing own canoes. Moreover,
there is ample evidence to show that some female fish traders in the artisanal fishing
industry are the major creditors and financiers of equipment and canoes (Nunoo et
al. 2015; Gordon, Pulis, and Owusu-Adjei 2017; Britwum 2009; Torell et al. 2019).
This study evaluated the effects of declining fish landings over the years on fisherfolk
in the Central Region of Ghana. The study concludes that the reduced fish catch has
a tremendous impact on household income and the general wellbeing of fisherfolk.
To cope with the reduced income base, many fishing households have diversified their
livelihood activities. We also observed that declining fish landings have a more pro-
nounced effect on male fisherfolk than females as a result of traditional social differ-
entiated roles. The fisherfolk enumerated various underlying causes that have contributed
to reduced fish stocks. The main drivers are overfishing, pollution, use of small mesh
size net, and unapproved methods of fishing, particularly chemicals and dynamite.
Based on these conclusions, we recommend that intervention programs should target
the provision of non-fishing livelihood options through proactive technical and voca-
tional training for the fisherfolk in the coastal communities. There should be an
improvement in the implementation of a closed fishing season policy for artisanal
canoe fishing and adherence to traditional values of pelagic fishing as effective man-
agement measures for restoring the declining fish stock. This can be achieved through
co-management, dialogue, and participatory decision-making in the artisanal canoe
fisheries. The reduction of fishing efforts through a decrease in the number of artisanal
canoe fishermen through the provision of alternative livelihoods. Education of the
fisherfolk about the dangers of using unapproved methods of fishing on their health,
livelihoods, and wellbeing. The full implementation of the national fisheries manage-
ment plan of Ghana and national policy for the management of the marine fisheries
sector. This will facilitate the long-term conservation of fish stocks, ensure food security,
and maintaining sustainable livelihoods for the fisherfolk. In furtherance of this, existing
policy and legal frameworks should be strengthened and enforced to bring about
compliance in artisanal fisheries. This can only be achieved through adequate capacity
building and retooling of mandated institutions that have oversight responsibility to
regulate and enforce laws in the fishing industry. Moreover, the encroachment of
industry fishing fleet to zones on the continental shelf reserve for artisanal canoe
fishing should be checked to enable pelagic fish stocks to recover. The establishment
of marine protected areas with cooperation with local fishing communities along the
coast will help many of the fish stocks to recover. Migratory pelagic fish should be
managed with the cooperation of countries in the sub-regional along the west African
coast. These will go a long way to revamp the fishing industry and stopping the decline
in fish stocks. Finally, in light of these findings, adequate education of the fisherfolk
on the need to use approved methods in fishing and adherence to regulations and
laws in the industry is of paramount importance.
We are grateful to Messrs Samson Aboagye for secondary data collection and literature search
and Ebenezer Nana Kwaku Boateng for developing the map for the study area, with support
from the GIS Unit, Department of Geography and Regional Planning, University of Cape Coast.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.
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In the United States, the iconic groundfish fishery for Gulf of Maine cod has endured several dramatic reductions in annual catch limits and been federally declared an economic disaster. Using a repeated cross-sectional survey of fishing captains to assess potential social impacts of the fishery failure, we found that psychological distress and social disruption were pervasive throughout New England fishing communities. For instance, our results indicate that 62% of captains self-reported severe or moderate psychological distress 1 y after the crisis began, and these patterns have persisted for 5 y. Using classification tree analyses, we found that low levels of trust in fisheries management was the most powerful predictor of both initial and chronic psychological distress. Distress was most severe among individuals without income diversity and those with dependents in the household. Compared to other aspects of fisheries, measuring and managing for noneconomic social outcomes and human well-being has lagged behind, even though it is a necessary component of mitigating the adverse impacts of fisheries disruptions.
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Closed fishing season for artisanal and inshore fishing is an effective management measure for restoring the fish stock. The study aimed at assessing the impacts of the closed fishing season observed in the Sekondi harbour in Ghana. The findings revealed that the one month closure period was too short and/or lack of strict supervision to realize any significant change in fish population and sizes. A more transparent discussion on the period for the closure, longer closure period up to three months as well as provision of alternative sources of livelihood were suggested to ensure more cooperation from the fisher folks.
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This article presents the results of an impact assessment of a component of a large scale USAID sustainable fisheries management project initiative aimed at integrating gender and strengthening the role of women in fisheries management in Ghana. The assessment is based on a literature review and qualitative field data collection. It assessed gender integration from three entry points: improving the Ghanaian policy environment for gender in fisheries, empowering women post-harvest processors, and engaging women gleaners in fisheries co-management. The assessment found that an important milestone was the adoption and implementation of the Ghanaian Fisheries Sector’s National Gender Mainstreaming Strategy in 2016. Summarizing the impacts on local post-harvest processors and gleaners, the assessment found that female post-harvest processors have increased capacity, confidence, and engagement in fisheries management. Gender mainstreaming efforts have succeeded in challenging cultural norms about women’s role in fisheries. Women have been exposed to sustainable fisheries management and are better equipped with the knowledge and leadership skills to advocate for good fisheries practices, which they actively demonstrate.
In the context of increasing climate change, fishery-based livelihoods as major means of income and well-beings for millions of population in coastal communities around the world are most affected. Yet, available information how fishery-based livelihood system at local level are vulnerable to climate change, especially in developing countries is very limited. Using an indicator-based vulnerability assessment framework, this study examined the household-level vulnerability of fishery-based livelihoods in two coastal communities in Central Vietnam. The results showed that the nature and degree of livelihood vulnerability to climate change among fishing households depend on their own characteristics and conditions as well as accessibility to livelihood diversification opportunities. Developing appropriate adaptation policies and coastal management measures to reduce livelihood vulnerability should enhance positive indicators of household’s adaptive capacity and create a better environment for alternative livelihood opportunities.
This paper investigates the livelihood situation of small-scale coastal fisherfolk in the Western Region of Ghana. This paper is one of the first studies focusing on coastal spatial mobility strategies to improve living standards adopted by fisherfolk in sub-Saharan Africa. It examines how fisherfolk livelihoods have been affected by the extraction and production of oil. The study further explores the various livelihood strategies deployed by fisherfolk to avoid decrease fish catch. A mixed- methods approach made up of 400 fisherfolk households survey and 42 interviews with stakeholders in the fisheries and the petroleum industries were conducted. The study shows that fisherfolk in the Western Region of Ghana are under high socioeconomic vulnerability because of decreased fish catch and declining coastal livelihoods. The spatial restriction of fishers’ mobility offshore, the destruction and confiscation of fishing gear, the presence of seaweed in the ocean, and the lack of land opportunities are some of the key petroleum-induced stressors on fisheries livelihoods. The various in situ marine-based adaptation strategies deployed by fisherfolk, especially illegal light fishing and fishing around oil rigs, are unsustainable and are counterproductive in the rebuilding of depleted marine fish stocks.
The adoption of alternative livelihoods is often considered as an effective way to reduce natural resource exploitation and improve local resource users’ well-being. Nevertheless, studies demonstrate that especially for small-scale fishing and aquaculture households it often can be hard to engage in alternative livelihoods. The initiation and reproduction of alternative livelihoods are not straightforward but shaped by various social-economic factors and processes operating at different spatial and temporal scales. Yet, studies frequently limit their analysis to household or extra-household levels. This paper develops a conceptual framework for a cross-scale analysis of livelihood diversification and applies it in a case study of small-scale fisheries and aquacultural livelihoods in the Tam Giang lagoon, Viet Nam to explain how social and ecological processes limit and enable engagement in alternative livelihoods. The framework and case study aim to go beyond the identification of single factors to demonstrate combinations of factors and processes, and how these play out differently for generations. From this study, the paper confirms that improvements in education, labour skills and job availability are necessary for the engagement in alternative livelihoods. It further argues that the success of interventions aimed at diversifying rural livelihoods need to consider generational differences within households, and the specific social and ecological contexts in which households are situated.
As climate change and other socioeconomic stressors continue to impact coastal social-ecological systems, we need to deepen our knowledge of the capacity to adapt. Global environmental change research has generated several useful concepts and frameworks for understanding and assessing adaptive capacity to climate change impacts, but our ability to effectively integrate and use this wealth of knowledge to mobilise and build the needed adaptive capacity remains low. We build on the capitals and the vulnerability frameworks to develop a new framework to argue for how existing frameworks and concepts can be consolidated for assessing adaptive capacity, how adaptive capacity can be mobilised and the need to assess adaptive capacity in the context of multiple climatic and non-climatic stressors. The framework adds three important insights into the studies of adaptive capacity. First, it recognises that links among various forms of capital (components of adaptive capacity) are critical for mobilising, building or depleting adaptive capacity. Second, it explicitly shows adaptive capacity is better understood when assessed in the context of multiple climatic and non-climatic stressors because the impacts of climate change are bound to manifest in complex coupled human and social systems. Third, it highlights that knowledge of multiple interactions among stressors provides a strong explanation for tackling some inherent developmental issues with climate change adaptation plans and actions. Evidence from small-scale coastal fisheries of Ghana supports the framework's assumptions and arguments.