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Protecting children’s rights in the context of Ghana’s fisheries

Felix Nana Kofi Ofori, PhD

REACT Humanitarian Network, UK

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Guest blog post for the IYAFA partnership on the human rights of small-scale fishers, Ghana.

Published 1 June on the One Ocean Hub website, this blog  discusses the responsibility of the Ghanaian government to protect the human rights of children in fishing communities, particularly in the context of challenges posed by Ghana’s fisheries. The challenges faced by these communities include harsh weather conditions, risk of drowning, and exploitation of children. The open access nature of the fisheries allows for the violation of children’s rights and dignity, leading to child labour, debt bondage, and sexual exploitation.

The post highlights that poverty, limited access to education and vocational training, and weak political leadership contribute to the prevalence of child abuse and labour in fishing communities. It also mentions the alarming situation in Lake Volta, where an estimated 20,000 child slaves work in the fishing industry under harsh conditions. These violations not only reflect a failure of governance but also undermine the goals of the sustainable fisheries scheme.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) obligates states to protect children from economic exploitation and hazardous work. However, the proliferation of child trafficking and exploitation in Ghana’s fisheries raises concerns about the government’s compliance with its obligations. The lack of accessible education facilities further exacerbates the vulnerability of children to exploitation.

The blog post suggests several recommendations, including providing educational facilities in fishing communities, investigating cultural practices that contribute to child exploitation, collaborating with local leaders, retraining and resourcing enforcement agencies, and offering training on child trafficking. These measures aim to ensure the protection of children’s rights and access to education in Ghana’s fishing communities.