A Ghanaian scientist has lamented that though fish consumption is absolutely essential to food security, illegal mining and oil drilling pose a major threat to coastal and freshwater fishes in the country.
The Director-General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr. Rose Mamaa Entsua-Mensah, said the eating of fish had become unsafe as a result of the release of toxic substances into water bodies by miners, which were harmful to living creatures.
Dr. Entsua-Mensah was presenting a paper on “who cares about the fish,” at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) occasional lecture series, in Cape Coast. She said the country produced about 410,000 tons of fish domestically, 75 per cent of which was consumed locally whilst about 100,000 tons were exported annually. On the health benefits of consumption of fish, Dr. Entsua-Mensah said research had shown among others that eating fish once or twice a week could reduce one’s risk of cardiovascular disease by more than 40 per cent, and having low fat, cholesterol and sodium in the body was ideal for tackling diabetics.
Dr. Entsua-Mensah, however, expressed worry that deforestation, water pollution, degradation of coastal wetlands and exploitation of mangroves, aquatic weeds and over exploitation of fishing were also threatening fishes and aquaculture in the country. She noted that policies and strategies have been initiated to control these challenges, but implementation of these measures has been difficult.
Dr Entsua-Mensahy recommended reforestation, education of local people, raising public awareness of problems and solutions as well as effective monitoring by the Environmental Protection Agency as a way of addressing the problems. She also called for the revisiting of traditional environmental management practices, such as obligatory rest days for fisher folks, regulation of fishing (ban on fishing on certain days) as a way of ensuring that the fishes grow to maturity and breed without being disturbed, and the preservation of water quality and conservation of mangroves around water bodies.
Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, Vice-Chancellor of the UCC, said that human survival was partly contingent on the environment, and called on Ghanaians to take environmental conservation seriously.