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GCLME Fish farmers to learn about mariculture techniques

By Olu Sarr

High Table at the opening Ceremony of MaricultureACCRA 23 Feb – Fish farmers and scientists from the Guinea current region began a three-day session Tuesday in Accra, Ghana, to learn about aquaculture techniques that would, if broadly applied, vastly improve the potential for food security for some 300 million people from Guinea-Bissau to Angola. Guinea-Bissau and Angola are the extreme geographical limits of the Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem. Participants from a handful of these countries are attending this Accra workshop on mariculture – sea fish farming.
“This workshop presents a bountiful learning and experience sharing opportunity for fish farmers in the GCLME to diversify their activities into the marine coastal environment,” said Dr. Mohamed Seisay, the fisheries expert of the Interim Guinea Current Commission/Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem project.

He was speaking on behalf of the organization’s executive secretary, Dr. Stephen Donkor. In his welcome speech he told the 29 participants present that they should “maximize this golden opportunity”, offered by the workshop organized by the IGCC/GCLME, to learn from the scientists present and from each other. The scientists are drawn from various institutes in Ghana, the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Yellow Sea Large Marine Ecosystem (YSLME). Most of the fish farmers present among the participants are from Ghana, but others are from Benin, Cameroon, Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The objectives of the workshops include establishing partnership between farmers in the Yellow Sea and Guinea Group Photograph of the MaricultureCurrent large marine ecosystems; establishing institutional linkages between research and scientists; develop capacities in mariculture practices, by sharing knowledge and exchange of experience on the development and status of mariculture in the Yellow Sea LME environment control and sustainability; and by reviewing the status and potential of fish farming activities in the Guinea Current LME.

The broader objective of this gathering is the promotion of different fish production technology in countries adjacent to the GCLME through distant learning techniques. In this effort, the Guinea Current LME has invited the Yellow Sea LME as a partner in mariculture development.

“We can lend our experience in reducing stress from aquaculture activities; and in using integrated multitrophic aquaculture technology,” said Dr. In-Kwon Jang, director of the Aquatic Industry Division at the West Sea Fisheries Research Institute in Inchon, South Korea.

The Yellow Sea LME was chosen as a major partner in mariculture production because the area has experienced similar patterns of fisheries exploitation and environmental degradation as the Guinea Current region. In the Yellow Sea, a polyculture system is employed whereby two or more species, with some inter-dependence among them, are cultured together.

Development of mariculture is foreseen in the GCLME Strategic Action Plan as a profitable way to improve living standards and socio-economic development of some 150 million people living along the region’s coastline. Fish stocks in the GCLME region have been severely depleted and aquatic habitat destroyed to the point that it poses “a major threat” as human populations continue to grow, the deputy director-general of Ghana’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Dr. Mamaa Entsua-Mensah, said.

“The ultimate challenge in the GCLME region is to sustain its population with food and improve their social welfare, at the same time conserve the aquatic environment,” she added.

The Keynote address at the workshop was given by the chairman of the Ghana Fisheries Commission, Mike Akyeampong. Other speakers included the chief director of the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, George Scott; Dr. Brad Brown representing the LME programme, NOAA. The meeting was chaired by the Ghana director of fisheries, Samuel Quartey.

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