A Vibrant Oceans Initiative – A Program of Bloomberg Philanthropies
Activity: CEMLAWS Africa Engages Women Fisherfolk of Tsokomey, Bortianor
The community of Tsokomey (which translates ‘of one tree’), has a unique blend of settlers from the Volta Region and Greater Accra, Ghana. The fisher folk engage in any of three fisheries-related activities i.e., marine fish landings, Acadja tilapia culture (brush park fishing), or oyster picking from a nearby site at the Densu Estuary (Faana). Other related activities, including fish & oyster transportation (by porters/hired canoes), fish & oyster cleaning and other processing methods (e.g., fish smoking), and sale at big markets, are predominantly carried out by women and girls.
In 2017, a participatory rural appraisal by the Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP) in partnership with Development Action Association (DAA), revealed the socio-economic dynamics of the community which informed the development of a Management Plan for oyster harvesting within the Densu Estuary.
Five years on, CEMLAWS Africa took the opportunity to align the objectives of the Vibrant Ocean Initiative, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, to mark strides taken in the implementation of the developed Management Plan by the Tsokomey community, while bringing focus to the multiplicity of challenges experienced by women processors who rely on dwindling marine fish landings, and the environmental pressures of the Acadja tilapia culture in an adjoining lagoon.
Through an interactive session, guided by a semi-structured questionnaire, responses and perceptions were gathered on women inclusion in decision-making, existing information-sharing mechanisms to ensure openness in fishing and related activities, the availability/accessibility to funding/incentive sources to improve livelihoods, and the level of adherence to fisheries policies/regulations.
The well-represented section of women fishers/processors emphasized the importance of groups/association to decision-making, while appeals were made to improve inclusion at higher levels of local and regional governance. A good knowledgebase existed on fishing regulations, and frequent advocacy was recommended to encourage stewardship and voluntary adherence. A Participant echoed the view of the majority, “Our community’s development will be improved when we can buy bigger fish at affordable prices to smoke, sell, and make a lot of money to care for our families and build our community!” The group appealed that through this Project, the Centre will amplify their voice on the need for strict enforcement measures for foreign vessels that fished ‘so close’ to shore, gathering small pelagics which are a mainstay for local artisanal fishermen.