BY RAMSON ACQUAH-HAYFORD
THE PRESIDENT of the National Union of Aquaculture Associations (NUACA), Mr. Francis Garbrah, has made a passionate appeal to all relevant duty bearers, especially the Water Resources Commission, Traditional Authorities and the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture, to act in concert for the review and strict enforcement of the National Riparian Buffer Zone Policy for Ghana.
Speaking at a media campaign under the auspices of the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund as well as the European Union, DANIDA and USAID, Mr Garbrah explained that the buffer zone policy had been designed as a harmonized document of all the dormant and fragmented regulations in the country concerning buffers bordering water bodies or river systems.
“It is also designed to provide comprehensive measures and actions that would guide the coordinated creation of vegetative buffers for the preservation and functioning of our water bodies and vital ecosystems,” he added.
He explained that Riparian vegetation along the catchment landscapes of the water bodies in Ghana provided a wide range of socio‐economic, biophysical and ecological functions. However, human-induced activities such as uncontrolled logging and mining activities, human settlements, urbanization, livestock populations, illegal mining and poor agricultural practices had degraded the vegetation cover at head waters and along the banks of many river systems and other surface water bodies.
“These poor, unsustained management practices are jeopardizing not only the aquaculture potential of Ghana, but also the physical quality of the environment, the hydrological and ecological support systems and the livelihoods of local inhabitants around these water bodies. These activities have further exposed most of Ghana’s rivers and water bodies to the vagaries of the weather, and as a result the many streams and rivers, which used to be perennial, but are now experiencing periodic drying up and thereby constricting the opportunities for aquaculture development in Ghana,” he said.
He said the buffer zone policy was intended to protect, regenerate and maintain the native vegetation in riparian buffer zones to improve water quality by instituting proper procedures for managing and controlling the above activities along riverbanks and generally in catchments of surface water bodies.
“The document, among others, serves to clarify the requirements for water quality and quantity and to outline a national policy on buffer zones as part of managing Ghana’s river basins in an integrated manner and to harmonize traditional and existing public institutional standards on buffer zones in Ghana,” he explained.
The National Secretary of NUACA, Siaw Danso, stated that, “reduced vegetative cover along waterbodies, coupled with increasing pollution from domestic and, in some cases, industrial waste have resulted in increased sediments and nutrient loading of streams and the consequent deterioration in water quality of the natural water bodies and their suitability for aquaculture.”
“Under the Water Resources Commission Act 522 (1996) Section 35(f), the Water Resources Commission (WRC) may, by legislative instruments, make regulations to facilitate a proper operational environment for its mandated functions, hence the buffer zone policy intangible terms should be backed politically and administratively in the form of the enactment of appropriate legislative instrument (LI) to ensure compliance of stipulations in the policy, and consequently aim at correcting conditions, which adversely affect water quality and quantity from land degradation,” he added.
Source: Ghana/dailyheritage.com.gh/April 10, 2019