Dr Linda Maud Naa-Dedei Palm, a Research Consultant, has called for sustaining a pilot project on the collection of waste fishing nets at Jamestown in Accra, and Nyanyanor in the Central Region.

She described the pilot project as successful at the two fishing communities with 720 kg waste fishing nets collected for Jamestown and 841 kg for Nyanyanor.

Dr Palm said this at a workshop to present the outcome of the pilot project, aimed to contribute to the prevention and significant reduction of marine litter in the country.

The project was supported by the Oeko-Institut, one of Europe’s leading research and consultancy bodies, in collaboration with NORAD and the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, aimed to protect human health and the environment.

It was conducted with the assistance of three resource persons from the Centre for Sustainable Cycles (SCYCLES Ghana).

Dr Palm, also a Resource Person for SCYCLES Ghana, said stakeholder consultative meetings and biweekly sampling collection schemes at landing sites were adopted where individuals with derelict fishing nets, categorised into cotton or nylon, where sensitised on the importance of the project.

She said based on several methodological approaches to retrieve waste fishing nets from the beaches and the community, a buy–back scheme was adopted to provide incentives to individuals and fishermen to collect the nets for sound management.

She said the waste would be sent to the Sea2sea Company, an international organisation, for recycling.

Dr Palm said the fisheries sector played a major role in socio-economic growth by contributing to the reduction of poverty and ensuring food security and sustainable livelihoods.

However, Ghana’s marine ecosystem was inundated with a myriad of sanitation challenges, especially plastic waste, she said, adding that the management of marine litter was vital to a healthy coastal ecosystem.

Dr Palm said various studies had predicted that unless some interventions happened, with the current per capital waste generated, the volumes of plastics entering the marine environment could double by the end of 2025.

Discarded and abandoned waste fishing nets, she said, constituted a significant proportion of marine plastics litter, which had serious impacts on fishing activities by damaging propellers of fishing vessels, with negative consequences on seafood, wildlife and humans.

Dr Harriet Danso-Abbeam, a Resource Person, SCYCLES Ghana, called for an intensive consultation at both the local and national levels with stakeholders to design a well-developed continuous education programme to promote sustainable fishing practices.

She called for appropriate policy reforms and law enforcement to reduce marine plastic litter across the beaches.

Mr Oliver Boachie, the Special Advisor to the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, said the project was part of a component under, which was the country’s plastic waste management system to fight marine litter and plastic pollution.

He said Ghana had partnered several countries and foundations around the world to address the plastic waste menace on a global level.

“We have as part of the National Plastic Management Policy come up with a scheme known as the resource recovery secretariat, created to be a unit that is solely responsible for the management of plastics,” he said.

Mr Richard Mensah, a Fisherman at Jamestown, expressed satisfaction with the project and called on the authorities to establish a delivery centre where individuals with waste nets could deposit them.