ECOWAS Coastal and Marine Resources Management Centre Commissioned

Honourable Hanna Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development

The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development of Ghana, Honourable Hanna Sherry Ayittey has, commissioned the newly established ECOWAS Coastal and Marine Resources Management Centre at the University of Ghana.

The Centre is responsible for co-ordinating activities that utilize earth observation data from satellite to help manage fisheries resources, and also provide early warning information on ocean conditions for the benefit of artisanal fishers. The Centre is one of six Regional Centres of Excellence which will implement the Pan-African programme on Monitoring for Environment and Security in Africa (MESA).

In her address, the Minister pointed out that fishery resources contribute significantly to the socio-cultural and economic well-being of coastal countries in the region. She noted that, close to 3 million people are directly or indirectly employed in this sector”. Ms Ayittey indicated that, the benefits from these resources are presently threatened as a result of poor management practices; and ever increasing challenges from illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing. The Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovations and Development, Professor John Gyapong, in his welcome address said, it is the decision of the University of Ghana to lay more emphasis on research. He noted that the University of Ghana has now gone Collegiate. Prof. John Gyapong revealed that, the ECOWAS Marine Centre will naturally belong to the College of Basic and Applied Sciences.

Professor John Gyapong, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovations and Development

On behalf of the University of Ghana, he expressed profound appreciation to ECOWAS, the African Union Commission, and European Commission for establishing the regional centre at the University of Ghana. He pledged the support of the University management to ensure that the purpose for which the Centre was established is achieved.

Cross section of some guests at the Commissioning

The ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Dr. Lapodini Marc Atouga’s who was represented by the Director for Environment at the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Johnson Boanuh., congratulated the University of Ghana for emerging as the preferred institution for the Regional Implementation Centre for the Monitoring of Coastal and Marine Resources Management in the ECOWAS sub-Region. He expressed the hope that the facilities provided for the MESA project will enhance coastal monitoring to help improve fishery management and reduce illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing practices; by providing information to relevant agencies. He said the purpose of establishing the ECOWAS Coastal and Marine Resources Management Centre is to provide timely information for decision making in the region.


A group photograph taken after the Commissioning

The Director of the Centre, Dr. George Wiafe, explained that access to earth observation data and subsequent development of products and services to manage resources in the maritime domain is critical to economic development for countries in the region, which depend hugely on these resources. He highlighted that coastal radar systems are very useful for monitoring, but cannot cover the entire exclusive economic zone due to limited line of sight. However, he said satellite data provides coverage to over large expanse of the ocean and thus complements coastal radar systems.

Dr. Wiafe elaborated further on the Fact that, the activities of the center are being supported under the 10th European Development at the tune of 1.92 million euros for three years.

After commissioning the Centre, the Minister, dignitaries and invited guests were given a tour of the Centre where the services were showcased.


The dignitaries and invited guests being given a tour of the Centre

Interacting with the experts at the Centre, Honourable Sherry Ayittey encouraged them to help build capacity in the various countries to implement similar services for the benefit of the artisanal fisherman against poaching. The Pro-Vice Chancellor on his part was very impressed with the progress of the Centre and encouraged the staff to work even harder in order for the confidence reposed in the University of Ghana to be justified.