Tuesday 12 July 2016

Impacts of Climate Change on Aquaculture Sector of Ghana: A Field Experience

By: Berchie Asiedu, University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), Ghana
Cohort 2 CIRCLE Visiting Fellow

Climate change is one of the most serious threats to sustainable aquaculture development in Ghana. The impacts of climate change in the aquaculture (small-scale) sector of Ghana are real. Droughts are being prolonged, rainfall patterns changing, floods increasing and strong winds are becoming a common phenomenon. Fish ponds are breaking in, aquatic plants are taking over ponds, fish mortalities are increasing, water quantity and quality are getting poorer, fish farmers are getting lower revenue and poverty is increasing.

In February 2016, I arrived at the University of Ibadan (UI) to officially commence my one-year Climate Impact Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement (CIRCLE) Visiting Fellowship programme. Prior to my arrival, I had several email exchanges with my Host Supervisor on my research proposal, work plan and other logistics. I also had a meeting with my Home Mentor and CIRCLE Coordinator before departing to UI.

Being at my Host Institution has been interesting. UI is Nigeria’s premier university with a lot of faculties, students and commercial activities. I was introduced to officers in the Research Management Unit (RMO), which is the unit responsible for coordinating the CIRCLE Programme. I met my Host Supervisor who warmly welcomed me and introduced me to other members in the department (Dept. of Aquaculture and Fisheries Management). I also interacted with students in the department and took interest in their research activities. I visited the department’s fish farm to familiarize myself with their work. I took keen interest to understudy the academic and administrative structures of my Host institution, especially, the Dept. of Aquaculture and Fisheries Management (UI), which is unique and I hope to adopt in my Home institution (UENR).
In March 2016, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop on Research and Grants Writing for Doctoral Students which was organized by the RMO and Postgraduate School. The workshop had sharpened my skills in research grant management, budget and budgeting in research grants, reference management, effective communication in research grant proposal writing, and ethical consideration in research.

I also had the opportunity to meet other CIRCLE Fellows and Ghanaian students at UI to exchange ideas and build working relationships.

After a meeting with some Ghanaian students in UI

As part of my CIRCLE research, I have spent three months studying the impacts of climate change on aquaculture through field data collection in two important aquaculture regions in Ghana (Ashanti and Brong Ahafo), sometimes travelling for about three days across districts, municipals, metropolitans, in rain, sunshine, traffic, day and night and in the remote parts of Ghana.
Working with stakeholders (i.e. fish farmers, fisheries officers, meteorological officers, opinion leaders, local climate experts, national best fish farmers, students, government institutions and religious bodies), the impacts of climate change are being analysed.

A visit to a fish farm in Sunyani, Ghana. The pond is dried-up completely due to prolonged drought and high temperatures. The water source is dried and the farmer forced to stop operations

Taking pond water turbidity with secchi disc at a fish farm in Kumasi, Ghana. The quality of water is key for fish growth but is getting poorer due to drought
It is worth noting that stakeholders (both individuals and institutions) are using various strategies to combat climate change (examples; constructing concrete walls to combat incidence of flood during extreme rainfall, raising pond dykes to check flooding, fencing ponds with nets to retain fish during floods, using sand bags to prevent pond erosion due to high rainfall, planting of trees to serve as wind breaks and to provide shade to reduce evaporation, abandoning ponds to contain water during heavy rains and construction of filtration systems to ensure safe water usage for production, pumping water to top up ponds during drought periods).
A farmer at Asufua has constructed a concrete wall to combat incidences of flooding during extreme rainfall. Farm operational costs have increased
A fish farmer at Odumasi has fenced ponds with nets to retain fish during floods. Ponds here are flooded during torrential rains

The opportunities and experience from the CIRCLE programme have been very helpful. I am hoping to use my knowledge and skills to have impact in the aquaculture sector, academic circles, public sector and the international communities.

This study has been possible by kind assistance of the CIRCLE programme, DfID, the ACU and AAS.
Berchie Asiedu.


  1. Congratulations Dr. Berchie, please leave me some fish...
    This is a critical area in Ghana since aquaculture has a lot more room for improvement. Any innovation will be a great bonus to boast the protein intake of the population and perhaps lead to export potential.

    1. Dr. Opare,
      Thanks for the feedback.
      I will surely leave some fish for you. The benefits of fish consumption is enormous; supplying proteins, amino acids, Omega-3 fatty acids, energy, vitamin A, D, E, B, etc. If the issue of climate change is tackled seriously, then we can increase production.

      By the way, your per capita fish consumption for 2015 was 28.5 kg (for Ghana).