It is with a great deal of pleasure that I join you, this afternoon, to commission the refurbished Sekondi Fishing Harbour. The refurbishment was began by my predecessor in July 2016, and the completion of the project by my government is evidence of the pledge I made in the run-up to the 2016 general elections that I will not abandon any project merely because it was started by a previous government. The completion of this harbour is critical, because the fishing industry is an important mainstay not only of many of the residents of Sekondi, but also of some two million Ghanaians across the country. I extend our sincere appreciation to the Government and people of Japan, who, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), are responsible for the technical and financial support given to this project. We cherish the strong bonds of co-operation and friendship that exist between our two countries, which are characterised by mutual respect.
Nananom, ladies and gentlemen, as you are aware, 70 per cent of Earth’s surface is made up of water, and account for the very origins of life, as we know it. The world’s water bodies provide food and sustenance, mineral resources, energy, employment and livelihoods, transport and recreation. Indeed, on our part, not only does fish constitute a substantial portion of the Ghanaian diet, fisheries are essential to the livelihood and economy of Ghana. Indeed, the fishing industry accounts for nearly 4% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and provides many employment opportunities for our young men and women. That is why the welfare of our fisher folks should be of the utmost importance to Government. It is, clearly, important for my Government, and, that is why, upon my assumption of office in January last year, I appointed a full Minister to oversee the activities of the sector, just as was done during the period of the 2nd President of the 4th Republic, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor.
This harbour witnessed its first rehabilitation in 2005 under the Kufuor-led NPP government. Residents can attest to the significant boost it provided the fishing industry here, as the fisher and trader populations increased. I am told that this current refurbishment, which cost some US$20 million, has equipped the harbour with a lay-by wharf, access road to boats, a fish market shed, fuel dumps, an administration block, a fresh water storage tank and a state-of-the-art ice-making machine. This ice-making machine has the capacity to produce some 30 tons of ice per day to preserve the catch, as against the previous capacity of 15 tons of ice per day. We should expect a substantial rise in the activities of our fisherfolk and traders here in Sekondi, and in surrounding communities.
Nananom, ladies and gentlemen, it has always been said that one of our major challenges is our poor maintenance culture. The deterioration of infrastructure, largely as a resort of our inability, deliberate or otherwise, to maintain them continues to be a serious drain on scarce resources. It is of the utmost necessity that we cultivate a solid culture of maintenance. I am, hereby, charging the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), responsible for supervision of this facility, to take good care of it in order to protect the US$20million investment for current and future generations.
Let me use this opportunity, nananom, ladies and gentlemen, to reiterate the unwavering commitment of Government to protect the territorial integrity of our country. Ghana’s waters are recognized internationally as being very safe. We will not allow pirates or criminals to rob us of this hard-won reputation, and create a sense of insecurity on our waters. To the fourteen tuna fishing companies that are reported to have recently halted operations due to the menace posed by the pirates, I urge them to resume. They have the full assurance of Government of their protection and safety, as they go about their day-to-day activities. We will not allow pirates or criminals to rob us of this hard-won reputation, and create a sense of insecurity on our waters. To the fourteen tuna fishing companies that are reported to have recently halted operations due to the menace posed by the pirates, I urge them to resume. They have the full assurance of Government of their protection and safety, as they go about their day-to-day activities. We will not leave them to fight this menace alone. The full force of the state’s security apparatus is being marshalled to curb the threats of piracy.
To our fisherfolk across the country, plans are underway for the construction of mini-fishing harbours and landing sites across the coastal belt of our country. Already, Government has signed an agreement with the Chinese Government for the establishment of the Jamestown fishing port complex, at a cost of US$50 million, with construction scheduled to commence this year. Under the Fisheries Sector Infrastructural Development Programme, the Ministry of Fisheries will commence the development of three landing sites at Winneba, Mumford and Axim; rehabilitate three public hatcheries at Vea, Sankana and Dormaa-Ahenkro; rehabilitate three fish health laboratories at Takoradi, Koforidua and Kumasi; complete and commission the Anomabo Fisheries College; and refurbish the Tema Boat Yard to increase productivity of fisher folk.
As Co-chair of the Group of Advocates of Eminent Persons of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, let me conclude by stressing that even though we may have little or no control over climate fluctuations or changes, one thing we can have control over is our day-to-day activities. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) methods are depleting our fish stocks. Our beautiful coastal wetlands are threatened by high volumes of plastic and metal waste that choke breeding habitats for fish. This must not be allowed to continue. Together, nananom, ladies and gentlemen, let us protect endangered species, achieve food security, and protect our oceans for the future.
Accordingly, nananom, ladies and gentlemen, I declare the refurbished Sekondi Fishing Harbour, duly commissioned.
May God bless us all, and our homeland Ghana, and make her great and strong. Thank you for your attention.