Impact of indigenous natural resources regulatory systems of fishing on the fisheries of a small coastal lagoon in Ghana
Many African cultures have indigenous practices that regulate the exploitation of natural resources. One such practice in Ghana is the close and open seasons for the utilisation of water bodies and the fisheries resources they provide. Compliance with the close seasons, however, has declined over the years, and this has the potential to affect fish stocks. We evaluated the impact of indigenous systems that seek to regulate natural resources exploitation on the fisheries of a small coastal lagoon, Sakumo, in Ghana. We measured fishing intensity, catch per unit effort, length-weight relationship and condition factor (K) of fish species harvested in both the open and close seasons. The predominant fish species recorded in fishermen’s catches were tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus and Sarotherodon melanotheron, which accounted for 47.62% and 35.60% by weight respectively of fish samples collected. Fishing activities occurred throughout the period of study irrespective of the season. The indigenous regulatory systems were neither respected, nor enforced by the traditional authorities, hence the lagoon fisheries continue to be overexploited. In the long run, this could lead to the collapse of the lagoon fisheries, with serious adverse impact on the livelihoods of the coastal communities who depend on this resource.