To address the situation, the Coastal and Marine Resources Management Centre, located at the University of Ghana is implementing the marine component of the Monitoring for Environment and Security in Africa (MESA) programme, through the use of Earth Observation (EO) data to support coastal and fisheries management in fourteen Western African Coastal countries
In an effort to build on the achievements of MESA towards blue growth for member states, the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES)—a European Union/ African Union led initiative for the implementation of information services, dealing with environment and security issues has been developed to provide sustainable, reliable and timely services to support users and public policy makers.
On Monday, 25th March, 2019, a one-day National Stakeholders Meeting, aimed at updating partners on the activities of GMES was jointly organized by GMES and the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources at the Fisheries and Marine Training Institute at Kissy Dock Yard in Freetown.
In his opening remarks, the Deputy Director of Fisheries in the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Josephus Mamie, spoke about the importance of marine resources in the socio-economic development of the region and impacts of climate change and poor weather condition on the marine environment.
He underscored the need for collaborative efforts in the implementation of the project to ensure a safe and secure marine environment and thanked the representative of GMES and Africa project for brilliantly updating stakeholders on the historical context and activities of the project.
Whilst acknowledging the importance of public education as a key component in the implementation of the project, Mr. Mamie pledged his ministry’s continued support to ensuring that the project is successfully implemented and entreated the participants to ensure that the project’s objectives are realized.
Making a Power Point Presentation on the theme—Marine and Coastal Areas Management in West Africa at the forum, the Deputy Director, Ghana Meteorological Agency, Joseph TettehPortuphy said the general objective of the GMES and Africa Project is to provide decision makers with Earth Observation (EO) information and tools that would support effective marine and coastal resources management in Western Africa.
He described the project as ‘’the first leg of the Earth Observation segment of the African Space Policy and strategy adopted in 2016 by African heads of state and government and a framework for enhancing lone-term strategic cooperation for the integration and deployment of African requirements and needs in Copernicus Services’’.
The project, he added, promotes the development of human, institutional and technical capacities for the access and exploitation of EO based services on operational basis for sustainable development in Africa and enables the European and African continents to jointly solve and address specific and global challenges. Mr. Portuphy described the marine sector in the region as ‘vulnerable’, citing a number of challenges including Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing, Habitat destruction and pollution.
He stressed the need to involve the private sector in the implementation of the project as an engine for growth, raise public awareness using various media channels such as Radio, Television, Websites and other Information, Education and Communication materials, develop capacity building programmes at regional and national level, develop a regional data exchange strategy and establish a geo-portal for disseminating EO products. A senior Lecturer at the Fisheries and Marine Training Institute, Ibrahim Koroma who chaired the programme, welcomed participants to the meeting and spoke about the role his institution is playing in building the capacities of players in the fisheries and marine sector and thanked the organisers for the initiative. Former Focal Point for MESA Project in the Ministry of fisheries, Madam Kadiatu Seaport Kamara, intimated the gathering about the project’s past activities which included trainings on Earth Observation, installation of a satellite and sensitization of coastal communities on the importance of the project.
She said the project was successfully implemented through the collaborative efforts of stakeholders but came to an abrupt end because of the Ebola crisis and lack of additional funds. She appealed for more funds to help address current problems facing the project. The Director of the Fisheries and Marine Training Institute, Dr. Andrew Baio disclosed plans to establish a ‘Blue Economy Secretariat’ to address issues relating to the fisheries and marine sector and emphasized the need to make it as inclusive as possible. He urged managers in the sector to ensure they provide the requisite data and information that would enhance effective management of resources for socio-economic development in the region.
The meeting which attracted representatives from various fisheries and marine environment related ministries, departments and agencies, ended with a number of recommendations, suggestions and observations including, the need for strong political will on the part of governments in addressing challenges facing the project, sustained national and international collaboration, provide more support to capacity building programmes for stakeholders, provide reliable and accurate data to help sustain the GMES Africa initiative for effective management of the sector and ensure policy statements relating to the management of the sector are binding on member states. Discussions on how to obtain ortho photos of the coastal areas in Ghana for developing the coastal vulnerability service, access to Earth Observation Data, Marine Products and Services among others were also held at the forum.