The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development; the national focal institution for the Monitoring of Environment and Security in Africa (MESA) programme, has organized a sensitization programme targeting the marine artisanal fishermen by rolling out ocean state information through mobile telephony platform, Short Messaging Service (SMS).
This MESA programme was held in conjunction with the Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMET) and the ECOWAS Costal and Marine Resources Management Centre, University of Ghana, which is the Regional Implementation Centre (RIC).
The coastal fisher folk and women involve in fishery activities from the Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions were all represented by their leaders at the event at the colourful event in Cape Coast.
The main objective of the MESA project according to the ministry was to “Protecting fishing grounds and ensuring safety at sea”, and to sensitize the key stakeholders towards the realization of this objective.
Other stakeholders present were, representatives of telecommunication companies, media, academia, the Ghana Navy and the Sustainable Fishery Management Project (SFMP), among others.
As part of activities towards the attainment of the objectives of the MESA project, the Fisheries Ministry, will be sending ocean state information through SMS to fishermen, informing them about the condition at sea, before they embark on fishing expeditions.
Since not all fishermen will receive the SMS, the Ministry in conjunction with the RIC and GMET is be implementing a flagging system to augment the general provision of condition of sea information.
Under the flagging system, “GREEN” corresponds with Calm condition; “YELLOW” correspondswith Rough condition and “RED” means dangerous conditions at sea.
These flags will be mounted at the landing sites in the fishing communities led by the various associations which will nominate some of its members and mandate them to be hoisting the flags when they receive the SMS of the ocean state
The same information could also be used to protect and advise coastal communities that are often displaced by high waves, especially in the Volta Region.
The Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMET) would also be devising other mechanisms and more convenient means to convey weather information to fisher-folks, and this will further strengthen efforts at ensuring safety at sea for fishermen.
Representatives of the fishing community present at the programme were enthused at efforts underway to ensure their safety and promised to cooperate to dissemination of the information to their colleagues improvesafety at sea.
Similar sensitization meetings had been held at James Town in the Greater Accra Regionon December 7, 2015, Keta in the Volta Regionon December 12, 2015 and January 6, 2016 respectively.
Ada also in the Greater Accra Region had its training for stakeholders in the fishing industry on March 1, 2016.
The project on coastal and marine resources management in the ECOWAS region, normally referred to as ECOWAS Marine Thema, forms part of the continent-wide programme on Monitoring for Environment and Security in Africa (MESA).
One of the primary purposes of the programme in the ECOWAS region was to empower the coastal countries in western African region made up of fourteen countriesto
sustainably manage fisheries resources and ensure safety at sea using geospatial technologies.
The project is funded by the tenth European Development Funds of the European Union.
The Coordinator of the project in Ghana, Mrs Eunice Ofoli-Anum, on her part appealed to all stakeholders and especially the telecommunication companies to help save
lives and properties of the fishermen and the local coastal communities, by sustaining the SMS dissemination of the ocean state.
According to her, the MESA programme is also helping the Fisheries Commission, through the Monitoring Control and Surveillance Unit, to monitor fishing vessels in the country’s waters using the Automatic Identification System (AIS).