Dam spillage: Lake Volta Fish Farmers suffer GHC 46m blow

Fish farmers in Lake Volta, Ghana’s largest aquaculture production area, have suffered huge losses due to the spillage of water from the Akosombo and Kpong Dams by the Volta River Authority (VRA) in September.

According to a report by Efua Konyim Okai, West African aquaculture correspondent for The Fish Site, an online platform for the global aquaculture community, the farmers lost fish with an estimated value of 46 million cedis ($3.9 million) and many cages were damaged or swept away by the flood waters.

The VRA started a controlled spill from the dams on September 15, 2023, as a safety measure to prevent flooding, and advised people in the nearby areas to take precautionary measures. However, over the next few days, the spillage caused widespread damage to the cages on Lake Volta, which is home to about 90 percent of Ghana’s cage fish farms.

The situation took a further dire turn in October when the VRA issued another warning about impending spillage. John Domozoro, CEO of PBA Farms and secretary of the Ghana Aquaculture Association, voiced the distress of the local farming community, stating, “What we are seeing is a major loss of capital to the industry and to the nation. This will certainly affect the supply and prices of fish in Ghana and even neighbouring countries. The serious thing is that this is not over. We could witness more of such occurrences.”

Witnesses to the catastrophe, like Sejiro Oke-Tojinu, an aquaculture executive attending a workshop in the area, expressed sheer disbelief at the scale of the destruction. “I have never seen such damage in my life,” he lamented, describing the sight of numerous fish cages, now debris, being carried away by the spillage.

“I could see, from my hotel, lots of cages accompanied by aquatic waste, being washed away. Lots of resources have been lost, and my heart goes out to the affected farmers,” he explained.

In response to the crisis, the Fisheries Commission has advised farmers on emergency measures, including relocating their cages closer to the riverbanks and strengthening their anchorage. Additionally, there is an emphasis on the urgent need for affordable insurance packages for fish farmers, as discussions with insurance companies are currently underway.

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