Challenges in the management of small-scale marine fisheries conflicts in Ghana
Ocean and Coastal Management
Marine fisheries play important socio-economic roles in Ghana including the provision of food, livelihoods, employment, income generation and poverty reduction. Small-scale fisheries in Ghana face many management challenges such as overfished stocks, and user conflicts which can threaten resource sustainability and social stability. Previous research on conflict management in Ghanaian fisheries in 2001, gave a view of conflicts at that time. Since then, the institutional arrangements for fisheries management have developed, but there have also been other pressures from overfishing, population growth and the development of a national oil industry. This paper identifies previous studies and conducts participatory research interviews with a range of stakeholders to determine current fishery conflicts, their causes, consequences and their management. Different types of conflicts were identified which include, spatial, fishing gear, resource competition, and a range of governance and inter-agency conflicts. Conflicts among fishers have negative impacts on economic and social development. Unfortunately, the decline in fish production due to overfishing precipitates some of the conflict issues. It is concluded that fisheries governance of the small-scale fisheries sector can be enhanced, if fish production declines are addressed, open access canoe fisheries are restricted, management of pre-mix fuel administration and distribution improved, with the subsidy on the commodity being gradually removed. Fishery regulations can be enhanced, fisheries arbitration systems strengthened and fishers made more aware of fisheries laws through education via co-management. However, given the extensive changes envisaged and the time required to reduce levels of fishing effort, it is essential that co-management governance structures and relations among small-scale fishers keep improving, so as to contain the level of conflict in Ghana's fisheries in the transition to more sustainable fishing and food security.
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