Fishery Dependent Communities in Coastal Ghana: Nutritional Security, Gender, and Resilience
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Fisheries are increasingly being considered in dialogues about nutritional security, amid concern for stresses on fisheries production. The people of coastal Ghana, whose livelihood and culture are based on fishing, present an important case in point. Are Ghanaians who live in fishery dependent coastal communities obtaining the nutritionally and culturally appropriate allocations of locally caught fish? If not, is this due to decreased landings of the small pelagic stocks the artisanal fishery relies upon, or is it due to other factors, such as changes in post-harvest distribution of fish within the country, or changes in people’s dietary preferences? Does fish continue to be a culturally and nutritionally important food source for coastal Ghanaians? To answer these questions, I conducted structured interview surveys at five study sites in the Western and Central Regions of Coastal Ghana, from October to December 2016 (n=308). I utilized a feminist research approach to survey women fish processors, fish sellers, and fish consumers. I also conducted elite interviews with community leaders, fishery NGO members, and government officials (n=9). My data shows that taste in fish has not changed, and that locally-caught fish continues to be a culturally important food source for coastal Ghanaians, who recognize the role of fish as part of a healthy diet. Decreased landings and a lack of livelihood diversity seem to directly affect the ability of coastal Ghanaians, especially those in the fishery industry, to obtain fish for themselves and for their families. However, changes in consumer purchasing power due to rising costs in fish and decreased income security for those in the fishery sector, and potential changes in fish distribution, may also affect availability of food fish. There existed key differences between the Western Region study sites and the Central Region site, suggesting that the presence and reliance of a cold store, as was reported in the Central Region, affects the community’s nutritional security and vulnerability to declining stocks.
- Marine affairs