By G.D. Zaney, Esq.


In 2015, world leaders at the United Nations (UN) agreed to work towards the achievement of 17 global development goals for a better world by the end of the year 2030.


These goals ―the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)―also referred to as (Agenda 2030), have the power to end poverty, fight inequality and stop climate change.


Goal 14 of the 2030 Agenda is headed Life Under Water and aims to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.


Under Target 4 of Goal 14, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics, the world must, effectively regulate the harvesting of fish and end overfishing, Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing as well as destructive fishing practices, and implement science-based management plans.


Again, under Target 6 of SDG 14, by the year 2020, global efforts should lead to the prohibition of certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, elimination of subsidies that contribute to IUU fishing and refraining from introducing new such subsidies.


Global efforts are also expected, under Target 7 of SDG 14, to increase the economic benefits from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through the sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism, to small island developing States and least developed countries by the year 2020.


It is also the target of SDG 14 (Target 14 B) to provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets while SDG Target 14 C, requires global efforts to contribute to enhancing the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLS), which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as stated in paragraph 158 of The future we want― the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,  from 20 to 22 June 2012.


According to The future we want document, the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and seas and of their resources for sustainable development are critical to global poverty eradication, sustained economic growth, food security and the creation of sustainable livelihoods and decent work.


The document also underscores the importance of the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and seas and of their resources to the protection of biodiversity and the marine environment, and addressing the impacts of climate change.


The June 2012 Rio de Janeiro conference, therefore, pledged its commitment to protecting and restoring the health, productivity and resilience of oceans and marine ecosystems, and to maintaining their biodiversity, enabling their conservation and sustainable use for present and future generations.


 The Future We Want document is also committed to  effectively applying an ecosystem approach and the precautionary approach in their management, in accordance with international law, of activities having an impact on the marine environment, to deliver on all three dimensions of sustainable development.



Sustainable Fishing

Decades of overfishing have tremendously affected ocean health, with resultant poverty, food insecurity, ecosystem imbalances, distorted markets and unemployment.


The challenge of overfishing is compounded by harmful subsidies, leading to serious social, environmental and economic impacts; for the more than one billion people who depend on seafood as a main source of protein, and the more than 40 million people who rely directly on fishing for their livelihood


The 2018 State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture Report of the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that a third of all fish stocks are exploited at unsustainable levels and another 60% have no room for increased fishing without jeopardizing sustainability.


Comprehensive estimates of global fisheries subsidies also show that as much as US$20 billion is spent by governments globally on capacity-enhancing subsidies― harmful payments that offset fishing costs such as fuel, gear and vessel construction, and allow fishers to travel farther for longer —which carry the risk of fishing above sustainable biological limits.


For Ghana, the challenges of the Marine fisheries sector are overwhelming as a severely overexploited fisheries sector puts tens of thousands of metric tons of local food fish supply at risk and threaten the livelihoods of over 130,000 people and many more fisheries resource dependent households.


Ghana’s open access to fisheries has resulted in extreme overcapitalization of fleets, compounded by poor governance, weak enforcement of rules and a fuel subsidy.


Available information, however, indicates that some progress is being made in Ghana towards the achievement of SDG 14 through interventions by the European Union (EU).


With funding from the EU, a four-year fisheries governance project dubbed: Far Ban Bo (FBB) project is being implemented by a consortium of three― CARE (the lead), Friends of the Nation (FoN) and OXFAM-in-Ghana ―in collaboration with key fishery stakeholders, such as Smallholder Fishery Associations, Fisheries Commission and the Fisheries Alliance.


FBB is designed to contain the challenges of overfishing and unsustainable fishing practices such as IUU fishing as well as address low compliance with fisheries regulations and the weak capacity for the enforcement of fisheries laws.


The project seeks to empower community participation in the management of their resources by forming IUU Community Monitoring Groups (CMGs) that will plan actions for improved IUU monitoring at the local level that links to national level multi-stakeholder platforms for follow-ups on arrest and prosecution for cases reported.


If effectively implemented, FBB is expected to contribute significantly to improving livelihoods and the nutritional status of smallholder fishers as well as other users of fisheries resources, through social and economic safeguards.


There is also the Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP) awarded by USAID/Ghana on October 21, 2014 to the Coastal Resources Center (CRC) at the University of Rhode Island (URI).


The five-year co-operative agreement (AID-641-A-15-00001), is estimated at the cost of US$ 23,987,826 with match commitments from URI and partners of US$ 4,797,565.


The project is supporting the Government of Ghana’s fisheries development policies and objectives, and aims to assist the country to end overfishing and to rebuild targeted marine fish stocks that have seen major declines in landings over the last decade― particularly the small pelagic fisheries that are important for food security and are the mainstay of the small-scale fishing sector.


The writer is a Free-Lance Journalist and a Lawyer

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