Stakeholders in the aquaculture subsector have pleaded with the Fisheries Commission (FC) and the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) for a residue monitoring and bio-certification.
The stakeholders, through a position paper presented by the Development Action Association (DAA) to the Fisheries Commission at the Fisheries Commission Conference room, called on FC to develop a Residue Monitoring Plan as part of the measures to warrant a safe and high quality fish for consumers, in line with international standards and export requirements.
Joseph Wise Seyram Klu, an agribusiness consultant, upon presenting the position paper disclosed that, the residues in farmed fish are not tested at the moment in view of the absence of a residue monitoring plan for farmed fish.
“This phenomenon has led to difficulties in ascertaining the quality of fish produced in aquaculture systems in accordance with the requisite food safety standards.
“A Residue Monitoring Plan is key to the requirement for farmed fish export into the EU market, and the absence of it is a barrier to entry for farmers who wish to export.”Mr. Joseph Wise Seyram Klu
The position paper also communicated stakeholders’ call for the government through the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development and the Fisheries Commission, to resource the Veterinary Services Directorate (VSD)’s National Food Safety Laboratory, or the GSA’s Food Laboratory with a Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS) machine and its accessories to enable the testing of residues in farmed fish.
Francis De Heer, the Organizer of the National Aquaculture Association repeated how crucial it has become for the FC to operationalize an aquaculture biosecurity plan to help in managing bio-certification of fish farms and regulate aquaculture practices.
According to Mr. De Heer, this will require an urgent institution of farmer and consumer-oriented programs to promote aquaculture, safeguard sustainable water resource management and food safety.
“It will also ensure the protection of wild species and promote healthy, productive, and resilient water-use ecosystems.”Mr. Francis De Heer
Not limited to that, Mr. De Heer as well emphasized on the necessity for the Fisheries Commission to develop and establish a national aquaculture bio-certification program, along with biosecurity self-assessment checklists for farmers and fisheries staff.
“The institution and implementation of a fish farm bio-certification program will minimize production losses and reduce the risks of pests and diseases affecting farmed fish and the environment as well as reduce the risk of losing market access for Ghana’s farmed fish.”Mr. Francis De Heer
Fish Health Unit Should Engage Veterinary Services Directorate To Develop The Aquaculture Subsector
Emelia Nortey of the Development Action Association (DAA) raising concerns in line with the position paper, bemoaned the absence of documented aquaculture disease surveillance, disease preparedness and control plans by the Fisheries Commission and therefore called on the Fish Health Unit of the Fisheries Commission to engage the VSD and develop one for the aquaculture subsector.
Mrs. Nortey urged the Fisheries Commission to strengthen ties and synchronize its operations with the VSD, FDA and GSA given their vital roles.
She further called on the Fisheries Commission to resource technical officers to supervise the biosecurity plan and the bio-certification program as well as ensure the establishment of fisheries desks at the various Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs).
Paul Bannerman, the Deputy Executive Director of the Fisheries Commission upon receiving the position paper expressed his gratitude to the Development Action Association for their efforts, and showed his appreciation to GIZ, which has been supportive of this process through its Sustainable Employment in line with Agribusiness (AgriBiz) program.