As part of the World Ocean Day celebrations, on the June 8, 2020, Mundus maris organised a participatory dialogue and sensitisation among fisher folks and youth in Apam, a fishing community in the Gomoa West District of Ghana. The event under the theme ‘The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods’ aimed to raise the awareness on human connectedness to the ocean, why and how we must care for the ocean – with particular emphasis on the need to combat plastic ocean pollution.
As learning from traditional knowledge and local perspectives is crucial for any transformational change, participants were invited to discuss the topic in smaller groups to make sure that all voices were heard.
The gathering lasted for almost two hours and was attended by fifty-seven (57) participants including fishermen, women fish processors and traders, youth and other stakeholders in the community. It was facilitated by Prof. Francis K.E. Nunoo, a Fisheries Scientist and Head of Department of the Marine and Fisheries Sciences, University of Ghana, who led the discussion on the theme and provided the summary, including additional highlights.
Regarding the benefits of the ocean to human lives and livelihoods, participants highlighted how it provides us with fish and other sea food, serves as a means of livelihood, particularly for them as coastal folks, foreign exchange from fish exports, promotes tourism and serves as a pleasant place for recreation (relaxation) and mental well-being. Summing up on the topic, Prof. Nunoo added how human lives are dependent on the ocean highlighting that the ocean produces about 50% of the world’s oxygen, regulating the oxygen concentration in the atmosphere.
In highlighting the issues that are harming the ocean, participants outlined the following: the use of poisonous chemicals for fishing, disposal of waste at the shore/ ocean as well as the dumping of plastic waste in the sea while on fishing expedition, the activities of Saiko (transshipment at sea), overfishing, the activities of mining companies at sea, poor sanitation at the shore with lack of toilet facilities leading to open defecation at the shore.
In the closing remarks, Ms. Sarah Appiah thanked all participants and especially all the elders for their contributions and proposed initiatives. She indicated Mundus maris‘ willingness to support such initiatives as the gathering for World Ocean Day was not an end in itself but an opportunity to galvanise improvements to problems identified by the community.
The local Nyce FM honoured the invitation to the event and aired the programme on the evening news on the 8th of June.