Industrial and small-scale fisheries relations in Ghana: A political ecology perspective on blue economy exclusion

Raymond K. Ayilu, Michael Fabinyi, Kate Barclay, Mary Ama Bawa

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    The fisheries sector in Ghana is a significant source of livelihood for many communities along the coast. However, the sector faces several challenges, including the power dynamics between the industrial bottom trawl industry and small-scale fishers. The concept of resource scarcity has frequently been used to characterise conflicts between industrial vessels and small-scale canoes in Ghana. This paper seeks to build on this dominant narrative that resource scarcity is the key driver of conflicts, arguing that exclusion, and resistance to exclusion can also explain contemporary conflicts in marine fisheries, and that indeed apparent resource scarcity can be caused by exclusion. A political ecology lens reveals that fisheries conflict in Ghana is entwined with established and emerging socio-political domains of exclusion, namely, regulation, legitimisation, force, and the market. We explain how contradictory regulations and ambiguous boundary delimitations, combined with a long period of weak enforcement, have helped industrial trawlers exploit fisheries in ways that exclude small-scale fishers. Additionally, with foreign-aid diplomacy legitimising the expansion of foreign-owned industrial trawlers, the infiltration of illegal catch into the small-scale value chain harms local businesses. We conclude that conflict serves as both a tool and a symptom of exclusion through its connection to regulatory, jurisdictional, and political contexts, as well as market dynamics.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Rural Studies
    Publication statusPublished - 2023

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