Fisheries constitutes an important sector in national economic development, and is estimated to contribute 3 percent of the total GDP and 5 percent of the GDP in agriculture.
The Fisheries of the Volta Region comprise the Marine and Inland (rivers, lake and aquaculture).
Marine fishing activity in the Volta Region is strongly linked with the seasonal upwelling that occurs in the coastal waters. Two upwelling seasons (major and minor) occur annually in Ghanaian coastal waters. The dominant fish species which are caught in sizeable quantities by the canoe fleet are the small pelagics. Four small pelagic species of high economic value in the Region are: the round sardinella (Sardinella aurita), flat sardinella (S. maderensis), anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) and chub mackerel (Scomber japonicus). These species usually account for over 80% of total landings of the small pelagic resources annually. Sparids (Pagellus bellottii and Sparus caeruleostictus) and big-eye grunt (Brachydeuterus auritus) are also landed in appreciable quantities. According to the 2004 Marine Frame Survey, there are 29 fishing villages and 63 landing beaches along the marine coast of the Volta Region, with 736 canoes and 17,382 fishermen.
The Inland Fisheries of the Volta Region comprise lakes, dams and dugouts, reservoirs, swamps/flood plains, and rivers including estuaries. The Lake Volta is the most important inland fishery. It is rich in fish and about 140 species of fish could be identified in the lake. Fish landing are dominated by tilapia species (38.1%), Chrysichtys sp (34.4%), synodrantis sp (11.4%), Labes (3.4%), Mormyrids (2.0%) Heterotis (1.5%) clarias sp (1.5%), clarias sp (1.5%), schilbeide (1.4%), odaxothrissa mento (1.4%), Bragrus sp (1.35) and citharinus sp (1.2%) and the rest which are less than 1% include Alestessp, Brycinassp, Distichodus sp, Gymmarclussp; Hydrocynus sp and Lates niloticus,(Braimah 2001). The Volta Lake has a surface area of 8,400 km2 and a length of 410 km, is 90 metres deep at the deepest portion and a mean depth of 19 metres. There are 1,232 fishing communities along its banks, of which 384 communities are in the Volta Region.
Aquaculture is one of the inland fisheries even though its potential is largely under-exploited. Aquaculture has been adopted as an assured way of meeting the deficit in Ghana’s fish requirements. Various fish species are cultured, including several species of tilapia such as Oreochromis niloticus,, Tilapia zillii, Sarotherodon galilaeus and Hemichromis fasciatus, Heterotis niloticus and the catfishes (Clarias gariepinus and Heterobranchus bidorsalis. O. niloticus is the major species farmed and constitutes over 80 percent of aquaculture production. Others account for the remaining 20 percent.
Commercial fish farming as a major farming activity has opened up avenues for employment. The sector has a huge potential in the provision of inputs such as fish seed (fingerlings) and feed as viable commercial activities to support the development of the rapidly growing industry. Fish farming is possible at irrigation sites, the numerous dams and dugouts, the Volta lake (where cage culture is on the ascendency), lagoons (pen culture) and other suitable sites dispersed throughout the region.
The Government has taken several steps to support and accelerate aquaculture development. The measures which are directed at fish farmers in general include:
Prohibition of farmed fish imports except with a permit from the Ministry of Fisheries to ensure there is a good price for aquaculture products in the country
Post-Harvest And Fish Trade
Post-harvest fisheries in the Volta Region are important in terms of employment, income, food security, foreign exchange and poverty reduction.
Fish that is produced or landed in the Region is increasingly being sold in areas where better prices are available, which is often outside the Region. A lot is also exported to the neighbouring countries as well as markets in the UK. For domestic consumption fish is often purchased fresh, smoked, salted, dried, salted and dried, fried or grilled. There is a consistent rise in fish exports over the years mainly to the European Union, Japan, Canada, Togo, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, United States of America, Benin, and Nigeria.