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The indigenous people of Ghana in the struggle for survival against Chinese industrial fishing. Ghana 2022

The exploitation of the blue economy is an endemic collateral consequence of neo-colonialism.  No where is it more present than the once abundant waters of Ghana. Today, Chinese industrial fishing vessels wage war on marine biodiversity, livelihoods, food security, and the indigenous traditions and spirituality of sovereign waters.

Situated in West Africa on the Gulf of Guinea, Ghana enjoys approximately 550 kilometers of coastline including seas and rivers creating a backdrop for a vibrant and profitable fishing industry. The industry consists of three main sectors, small scale (artisanal /canoe), semi-industrial (inshore) and industrial sub- sectors. The total industry accounts for 20 percent of the country’s labour force, more than 2.5 million persons throughout the local supply chain with
50 percent participation from women. The sector benefits from both local consumption and exportation. The National Export Development Strategy predicts
1.1 billion in fish exports revenue by 2029.


Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing threatens Ghana’s fish stock and export reputation. IUU activities include, fishing without a license, fishing in a closed area, fishing with prohibited gear, fishing in excess of a quota, and fishing of prohibited species. Foreign industrial trawling, illegal net size, rampant saiko trading, and grossly irresponsible practices have exploited biodiversity. The exploitation attributes to Ghana’s reliance on importation; Ghana currently imports over $300 million worth of seafood annually to supply its consumption demand. According to the recently published Empty Oceans, IUU
between 2000 – 2016
resulted in a 37 percent reduction in catches with dramatic socio economic consequences. The catch reduction triggered the loss of over 10,500 jobs in the past few years with innumerable collateral loss to women who occupy and control post-harvest activities. Reckless and uncontrolled sourcing directly contributes to poverty levels, with women bearing the majority of the burden.

Text: Melani Mennella

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Pulling out the net from the sea.

Bowls at the Elmina market.

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Waiting for the canoes with fish at the Elmina market.

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Fish processing.

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Canoes at the Atlantic Ocean.

Fish sellers at the Elmina market.

Fish processing at the market in Elmina.

Canoe arriving at the Elmina market.

Processing and selling fish at the market in Elmina.

Fish processing.

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Fish seller at the Elmina market.

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Fisherman loading ice to canoe.

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Elmina market.


Pulling out the fishing net.

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Canoes landing at the Jamestown beach.


Canoes port in Jamestown.

Smoking fish, Jamestown.


Smoked fish in Jamestown.

Fisherman fixing the net in Elmina.

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Jamestown canoes port.


Fixing the net, Jamestown.

Smoking fish in Jamestown.


Jamestown port.

Residential area next to the Jamestown beach.

Fishing boat under construction.

Canoes landing at Jamestown.


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