The MESA Project uses Earth Observation (EO) Data, that is, information gathered through the use of satellite, to provide operational services to support fisheries management and safety of artisanal fishermen.
Mr Azumah Dogbeda, Project Assistant, briefing the Ghana News Agency, on the project, said MESA hoped to raise awareness and inform policy makers on the relevance of the Earth Observation Services.
He explained that the EO data could help predict which area of the sea fishermen were likely to catch more fish, and which areas they should not fish, adding that it also provides early warning on the ocean conditions
Mr Dogbeda disclosed that the fish stock in the ECOWAS sub-region was declining at an alarming rate and pointed out that, the use of EO data would help decision makers in participating countries to better understand how ocean processes affected fish distribution.
The MESA Project is an European Union-funded project managed by the African Union Commission, to expand long-term co-operation and exchange between European and African stakeholders for the development of operational services.
As part of the project, Satellites will be used to collect data which support environmental management and security in Africa. The project is being implemented in 14 African countries, including Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Benin, Cape Verde, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Cote D’ Ivoire, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Togo, Mauritania, Sao Tome and Principe.
The MESA project’s focusing is on Coastal and Marine Resource Management.
Mr Dogbeda said the project will also enhance Maritime Domain Awareness and fight against illegal unreported and unregulated fishing while improving ecosystem health.
“Ultimately, MESA will be saving lives by giving out timely information to our fisher folks, and governments will be saving a lot of money because the Earth Observation data services is less expensive,” he stressed.
Mr Dogbeda further explained that all the countries, including Ghana, had a national focal point, which was usually the Ministry in charge of fisheries, and as part of the project, information would be sent using text messages to fishermen.
Mr Bennet Astu Foli, Associate Oceanographer, also pointed out that the MESA project would further enhance food security, explaining that the timely information given to policy makers would enable countries to strengthen their marine laws to protect illegal fishing and prevent depleting the fish stock.
Globally many seas are faced with low catch as a result of excessive fishing pressure and changing global climate, he added. GNA