Hεn MPOANO: Western Ghana Integrated Coastal and Fisheries Governance



Communication, Outreach and Capacity Building in the Ghana Integrated Coastal and Fisheries Governance Project

Communication, Outreach and Capacity Building

The capstone documents of the Integrated Coastal and Fisheries Governance Project (known also as the Hɛn Mpoano initiative) include the “Our Coast, Our Future” set, two policy proposals for improving fisheries and coastal governance in Ghana, and a series of policy briefs on key issues facing the coastal districts of Ghana’s Western Region.  In addition, two newsletters and summaries of several key training events are listed below.


The Hεn Mpoano (Our Coast) initiative is working to set the stage for an integrated approach to the governance of the coastal districts and inshore fishing grounds of Ghana’s Western Region. Hεn Mpoano is a partnership that draws together leaders from government, civil society and business to analyze the issues, assess the options and select courses of action that will contribute to a positive and sustainable future for the coastal zone of this region. This document includes a discussion of the actions that Hεn Mpoano proposes to take over a three-year period in which it hopes to establish and formalize a governance program for the Western Region that can serve as a model for the nation.

Our Coast, Our Future: Western Region of Ghana was the first major product of the Hen Mpoano initiative, published in 2010. It made the case that a process is needed which is grounded in the belief that a fresh approach to the governance of the coast and fisheries will take root only when it addresses issues that are perceived by the people of the place as important. This new, capstone document captures the voices of the leaders, staff and stakeholders engaged in this new process during the period 2010 to 2013. They have worked very hard to make tangible progress toward improved fisheries, marine and coastal governance in the Western Region and have much to say about what works, doesn’t work and why. These lessons learned are accompanied by overviews of the elements of a new governance program for the Western Region that can serve as a model for the nation.

Legislative change is needed in the form of an amendment to the Fisheries Act of 2002 that adds a co-management section as well as fisheries co-management legislation that sets standards and procedures to implement such a plan in Ghana. Such legislation should include explicit language to support the creation of adaptive co-management frameworks at different scales as previously outlined. This needs to include clear roles and responsibilities of the Fisheries Commission regarding the co-management committees. Jurisdictional boundaries (maritime and/or geographical) need to be made explicit to coincide with the authorities granted to co-management committees and user groups. The legislation needs to provide explicit authority of the Fisheries Commission to allocate use rights, where necessary, but with a caveat that such rights come with responsibilities for conservation, environmental protection (e.g. protection of endangered species and critical habitats) and contributions to Ghana’s societal goals as spelled out in national fisheries policy. The Fisheries Commission must also be mandated to establish by legislation criteria concerning these responsibilities and conditions under which use rights can be granted or suspended.

The fundamental purpose of designating the six coastal districts of the Western Region as a Joint Coastal Management Area’s is to provide for sustained planning and management that addresses the issues that affect the Western Region’s coastal zone as a whole and cannot be effectively addressed by the coastal districts individually. It provides the districts with an explicit high-level mandate and an additional source of funding to work collaboratively on specified issues posed by development in the Western region’s coastal zone. The joint development planning and management process (J-CAMP) is to manage, preserve, protect, develop, and where possible restore, for this and succeeding generations, the resources of the coastal zone of the Western Region. This would be accomplished through comprehensive and coordinated long range planning and management designed to produce the maximum long-term benefit for society. The sustainable use of socio-ecological systems would be the primary guiding principle upon which alterations and new uses in the coastal zone would be measured, judged and regulated.

This brief puts forward options for a nested coastal governance system. These ideas will be refined and augmented by ideas introduced by other papers in the series. The papers will focus on coastal and fisheries issues in the western region to identify their causes, social, economic and environmental implications and how they might be addressed by a strengthened governance system. These briefs draw upon Hɛn Mpoano’s “learning by doing” process as it works with communities, districts, governmental agencies and other stakeholders to practically address problems and specific opportunities along the coast and within the fishery. The process and proposal is supported by the advisory council of the Hɛn Mpoano initiative.

Though the government of Ghana has made clear commitments for wetlands management and protection, there remain significant challenges in the implementation of conservation strategies and encroachment and degradation continues to evolve. The Western Region is home to some of the richest and most diverse coastal wetlands areas in Ghana and yet there are no formal mechanisms for their management and protection. These wetlands provide a host of critical functions and services but they are increasingly under threat for accelerated development resulting from the rapidly evolving oil and gas sector and record high commodity prices for a host of products exported from the region. This paper proposes a “way forward” that calls not only for commitment within agencies of government but also the active involvement of civil society and a change in the attitude of the traditional authorities and private sector interests that are fueling, directly or indirectly, the threats to the coastal wetlands of the Western Region. It also suggests mechanisms for managing and protecting vital wetlands resources in the western region

This brief examines the imperative of integrating voluntary compliance with effective enforcement of fishery regulations to rebuild Ghana ‘ s severely over exploited fisheries. Around the world, experience has shown that coercive enforcement alone will not produce the effective implementation of fisheries regulations. The enabling conditions necessary for the implementation of fishery reforms must first be created and they are not yet present in Ghana.

This brief proposes a dual structure for adaptive fisheries co-management. Building upon the disappointments of earlier attempts at community based fisheries management, it recognizes the differences inherent in the management of highly migratory pelagics while encouraging local management units to develop and implement plans that improve conditions at landing sites and manage artisanal fisheries for non-migratory species in selected near-shore areas.

This issue brief highlights the key issues facing Ghana’s Western Region in terms of fresh water supply and distribution and recommends policy options to protect water resources and insure equity in their use and distribution.

This issue brief highlights the key issues facing Ghana’s Western Region in terms of coastal flooding in low-lying areas as well as shoreline erosion, and recommends policy options to improve public safety and reduce environmental impacts.


This is the first of two issues of the project newsletter. It contains numerous short articles and photos featuring the activities of the ICFG project and its partners.

This is the second and final edition of the project newsletter. It contains numerous short articles and photos featuring the activities of the ICFG project and its partners.


This three day program in early February 2010 was designed to discuss and apply the methods being introduced by the Integrated Coastal and Fisheries Governance Initiative. These include the ecosystem approach, examination of long term trends, analysis of the existing governance system, techniques for assembling a baseline as a reference point for future change and framing strategies for achieving a desirable future in a specific place.

This four day program held in April 2010 was designed to discuss and apply the methods being introduced by the Integrated Coastal and Fisheries Governance Initiative, building on Training #1 held in February of the same year. Featured modules include the community characterization, shoreline management, biodiversity, fisheries, goals and policies of integrated initiatives, and an interaction with the Advisory Council.

The objective of this report is to share the preliminary results of WorldFish activities related to these components of the capacity development program. The report first introduces WorldFish approach to capacity development. It then presents the main activities conducted by the Center in 2011: • Training: technical skills for adaptive management of small scale fisheries (May 2011) • Assessing organizational capacity of partners to implement adaptive management. • Creation and strengthening of learning networks through study tours – a positive deviance approach. • Through community meeting and a workshop promotion of reflective learning and building the capacity of partners in the identification and design of projects using a “result-based management” approach

The workshop Community Leadership Training: Strengthening Community Leadership Capacity for Sustainable Resource Management was organized as part of the initiatives effort to strengthen capacity of stakeholders to participate in co-management of fisheries. The workshop aimed to equip community leaders with leadership skills for their effective participation in fisheries adaptive co-management, which has been identified by national fisheries stakeholders as the best way forward for reversing the downward trend in fisheries production in Ghana.

This report details A Rocha Ghana’s engagement with religious leaders in six coastal districts in the Western Region of Ghana from the 12th of December 2011 to the 9th of February 2012. In all, over 123 religious leaders were trained in reference theology on environmental stewardship and creation care. The programme led to the establishments of six interfaith eco-networks in six coastal districts in the western region of Ghana. The programme was a big success and both participants and organisers benefited immensely from the exchanges and experiences shared. The main recommendations for keeping the fire burning is ensuring that the eco-networks which have been established live beyond the lifespan of Hen Mpoano to perform the functions of mobilising religious organisations and advocating for responsible coastal resource use in the Western Region of Ghana.

A 3 half-day training workshop was held March 15-17, 2011 at the Western Naval Command Headquarters, Sekondi for fisheries stakeholders, namely, the Fisheries Commission, Ghana Navy, Ghana Police, Attorney General’s Department. Participants discussed issues within the sector and deliberate on how to improve on prosecution success. This was followed by two different review sessions. In order to achieve increased success rate of prosecution, diverse methodologies were employed during the capacity building workshops and review meetings. The facilitators used a combination of methodologies that enhanced effective impact and transfer of competence and skills. This elicited inputs and promoted sharing of experiences among participants throughout the sessions. The structure used to deliver the sessions included interactive presentations, brainstorming, discussions, as well as questions and answers. Participants shared wide range of perspectives and analyses on issues that emerged from the presentations.

The Hen Mpoano Initiative discussed with the Fisheries Commission and the Ghana Police Service (GPS) on ways to support aspects of the training of the newly assembled officers of the MPU on the ecological justifications of the Fisheries Regulations. Approval was sought from USAID to organize short training modules for the unit. A curriculum for the training was approved by the GPS, FC and USAID which paved the way for the training workshop. It consisted of series of lectures, group assignments, presentations and discussions, role plays, and field visits to fish landing sites and fishing communities. The visits were important for the Marine Police Officers (MPOs) as that inducted them into the communities.

A workshop on Fisheries Law and Regulations in Ghana was held on 17 – 18 December, 2012, at the Volta River Authority (VRA) Conference Hall, Shama. The workshop aimed to raise awareness and deepen participants’ understanding of the Fisheries Law and Regulations and their ecological justifications. Ghana’s national fisheries statistics shows that marine fish production has generally been on the decline for the past two decades. The case is not different from what the fishers themselves said during recent surveys conducted in coastal fishing communities in the Western Region of Ghana. Ghana Statistical Service, in January 2013, reiterated that the contribution of fisheries to Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has declined and the fisheries sub-sector was one of the worst performers in the year 2012 as far as the economy of the country was concerned. Signs are clear and more people in Ghana are beginning to appreciate that fisheries in Ghana are heading towards a crisis. It is apparent that without reforms in fisheries management in Ghana, the future of the goods and services provided by fisheries in Ghana are by no means assured.

This document reports on a WorldFish team activity aimed at planning community engagement for the ICFG initiative. Specifically, the effort helped design a community fora plan for 2012 to be discussed with the project team in Sekondi, including terms of references for the project fisherfolk consultants. Also described are recommendations for supporting material for the community fora to be used by the fisherfolk consultants and tested in the field, along with conducting two community fora in selected study sites.