Safe Fish Certification and Licensing Scheme Launched

Safe Fish Certification and Licensing Scheme Launched

The Ghana Fishery Recovery Activity, A USAID sponsored programme, launched the Safe Fish Certification and Licensing Scheme (SFCLS) at a colourful ceremony the Alisa Hotel in Accra, on 30th January. Fish comprises 70% of the dietary protein intake of Ghanaians, and the Scheme is an accreditation programme designed to ensure that only safe fish is presented to the public.

The Scheme was developed from the 2019 pilot ‘recognition’ scheme developed by USAID and the Fisheries Commission. Earlier, the USAID funded Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP) had promoted improved fish processing technologies, a noteworthy example being the Ahotor Oven, to reduce chemical and microbial contamination levels in smoked fish. The USAID Fishery Recovery Activity continued the work of the SFMP by strengthening the Multidisciplinary Technical Committee, which comprised representatives of the regulatory agencies – (Ghana Standards Authority, Food and Drugs Authority, Fisheries Commission), fish processing associations (National Fish Processors and Traders Association, DAA, CEWEFIA), academia, research institutions (University of Ghana, University of Cape Coast, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Ghana Chefs Association (participating as consumers).

Mr. Moses Anim, Deputy Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture, presents a certificate to one of the graduands

The Scheme comes into place to reverse a long-standing problem in our fish culture. A study conducted by the Food Research Institute of the CSIR to ascertain the levels of microbial contamination of processed fish on Ghanaian markets found that most processed (smoked) fish contained high levels of contaminants which pose a significant threat to public health. The microbiological profile analysis revealed the presence of bacteria, mold, and yeast on the smoked fish samples. The study also discovered coliforms and E. coli levels above human tolerance, which can cause stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever, dehydration, and other long-term diseases in the consumer.

A major aspect of the programme is the training of women processors in various aspects of of fish handling. Certificates were presented to the ladies upon completion of the programme. 

Speaking at the programme, the Deputy Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mr. Moses Anim, said that government was concerned with reducing post harvest losses to the barest minimum.

The colourful programme was interspersed with traditional music and dancing. The women processors won the day with their numbers, but the American officials were not embarrassed, at all.

Display of dancing skills

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