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Ghana Steps Up Efforts to Combat Illegal Tuna Fishing

Just days after the Africa Progress Report 2014 found fisheries in Africa are losing billions of dollars due to illegal practices, Ghana has taken a first step toward implementing an innovative partnership aimed at combating illegal, unreported and unregulated tuna fishing.

Under the leadership of the Government of Ghana, a unique partnership has been created with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the tuna industry and the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). This partnership will operate under a global project funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) as a five-year program aimed at improving the sustainability of tuna fisheries and conservation of biodiversity.

“Ghana’s decision to participate in this innovative partnership demonstrates our commitment to strengthening transparency in fisheries and contributing to the global fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,“ said Mr. Nayon Bilijo, minister of fisheries and aquaculture development.

The project will use electronic monitoring systems aboard tuna purse seine vessels to verify that fishing activity is in compliance with International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) regulation. The technology collects information to provide better estimates of the tuna catch and integrates this new technology with traditional tools used for monitoring, control and surveillance of tuna fisheries.

“By improving our ability to monitor catch data, this project has the potential to help the government of Ghana ensure its tuna harvests are legal and sustainable,” said Lauren Spurrier, marine director for WWF.

“The Ghana tuna industry is delighted to be an active participant of this project and truly honoured to be chosen for the purse seine trial,” said Nicolas Okyere, president of the Ghana Tuna Association. “We believe this will further expand to the entire Ghanaian tuna fleet and continue to show our full commitment to sustainable fisheries in line with the government’s Fisheries Management Plan.”

The project team met in Ghana last week with the purpose of advancing the project design and establishing a time-line to implement the project.

“This progress is an example of what effective partnerships among the public and private sectors and civil society can achieve,” said Alejandro Anganuzzi, FAO leader of the Global Tuna Project under the Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction project funded by the GEF.

ISSF President Susan Jackson echoed these sentiments. “Just as the complexity of addressing this issue demands multipronged continuous improvement efforts, it also demands multi-stakeholder cooperation. ISSF is pleased to be a part of this innovative partnership,” she said.

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For more information, please contact:

Martin Tsamenyi, Senior Advisor, Government of Ghana, tel. + 233204093836

Alejandro Anganuzzi, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, tel. +39-06-57053313

Nicholas K. Okyere. President, Ghana Tuna Association, tel. 020-211-3330

Christopher Conner, Media and External Affairs, World Wildlife Fund, +1-202-495-4786

Mary Sestric, VP Communications, International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, tel. +1-412-913-8654