The Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority (LUPSA) is in the process of developing a Marine Special Plan (MSP), to address the conflicting usage of fishing landing sites in the country.
Being developed in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the plan, will among other things, ensure fishing landing site designated for the indigenous fisherfolks are not sold for the construction of hospitality facilities, tourism, industries and other developments.
A Senior Planning Officer of the Authority, Mr Ebenezer Ntsiful, disclosed this in an interview with the Ghanaian Times on Wednesday in Accra, on the sideline of a day’s workshop on fishing landing site and documentation.
The workshop was organised by Hen Mpoano, a non-governmental organisation that provides technical policy and extension support to actors in government, private sector and development in fisheries and coastal ecosystem governance.
It brought together media persons, traditional leaders, fishermen, civil society organisations and some government agencies to discuss and provide sustainable measures of protecting the country’s ocean.
Mr Ntsiful said the Authority had over the years encountered some critical issues, facing the fishing industry, which sometimes resulted into conflict between the indigenous fishing folks, traditional leaders, managers of hospitality industry among others in some communities.
He said, the authority was worried about the rampant conflict between fishermen and managers of the hospitality industry, who had built their facility along the shore, therefore, denying the indigenous fishermen from parking their canoes in front of the shore of their facilities.
He said, in the Western Region where the authority had undertaken a pilot project for the MSP, it was discovered that the fishing industry was facing a major challenge with regard to where to park their canoes after fishing.
“Whenever they land at the shore the hotel owners engage them and ask them to shift their canoes to other places and this leads to disputes.
Meanwhile, they are the indigenous people of the land because they may have been landing there for decades, but because the land had been purchased by a private person they try to deny them access to the shore,” Mr Ntsiful said.
He said landing beaches for the fishing industry was gradually being lost due to the new development, and called for stakeholders’ intervention in finding sustainable measures in addressing the issues.
Mr Ntsiful said the MSP was significant to help protect the remaining shores designated as fish landing sites, to sustain the fishing industry else soon the fishing industry would not get a place to land.
The Project Manager for Hen Mpoano, Mr Justice Camillus Mensah, said the fish landing sites was where fisher folks got their sources of livelihood, hence, denying them access might result in a mayhem someday.
He said the development had also contributed to the sea level rise, whilst some industrial facilities had also taken over these landing sites.
“It is therefore prudent for stakeholders to come together to find means of protecting these sites, and leave spaces for the prosperity of the fisher folks.
Hen Mpaono had identified 10 landing sites and it is collaborating with the relevant government agencies to develop and protect these sites for the indigenous fishermen,” he said.
BY BERNARD BENGHAN