Research Article: Assessing the economic impact of climate change in the small-scale aquaculture industry of Ghana, West Africa

Date Published: October 17, 2019

Publisher: F1000 Research Limited

Author(s): Berchie Asiedu, Dickson Malcolm, Seidu Iddrisu.


Background: Aquaculture in Ghana is very profitable, but faces sustainability challenges. This paper assessed the impact pathways by which climate change affects the production and profitability of small-scale aquaculture in Ghana. The study analyzed and compared the economic value of smallholder fish farms with and without the incidence of climatic parameters.

Partial Text

Food fish plays an important role in the livelihoods, nutrition, and security of millions of the people in Ghana and other parts of Africa. The small-scale aquaculture (SSA) sector, is recognized as making an important contribution to food and nutritional security, poverty alleviation, and socioeconomic development at the global level (
Bondad-Reantaso & Subasinghe, 2013;
et al., 2017), especially in the developing countries. The global wild fish industry is failing, falling over the past decades from 85 million tonnes in 1995 to 80 million tonnes in 2014 (
FAO, 2016). Within the same period, the global per capita fish consumption has increased from 14 kg to 22 kg, which is credited to the growth in the aquaculture sector. The population of Africa is rising, with a corresponding increase in the demand for food, nutrition and livelihood support. While scientists and resource managers continue to battle with overfishing, pollution, and a decline in fish stocks, the impact of climate change is also attracting major attention. Variability in climate is modifying the productivity of aquatic ecosystems and thus affecting biological processes and food webs (
Yazdi & Shakouri, 2010). These impacts will be widely felt by fish farmers, fishers and the coastal poor through unstable livelihoods, fish availability and quality, and compromised health, safety, and homes (
De Silva & Soto, 2009;
IPCC, 2007; and
OECD, 2010). Many small-scale fish farmers live poorly due to low income level, low productivity, small pond size, low technology, and inadequate knowledge in aquaculture operations coupled with climate change. Climate change impacts like frequent floods, droughts, erosions, extreme temperature could worsen the situation of small-holder fish farming households through total stock loss, increased mortality, reduced fish yield, damage to ponds/tanks, increase operating cost, and affect their livelihoods (
et al., 2005;
De Silva & Soto, 2009;
Yazdi & Shakouri, 2010).

This study was carried out with an emphasis on aquaculture sustainability. The problem of food and nutrition insecurity still persists. Undoubtedly, the population of Ghana is growing rapidly. At the same time, there is increasing pressure on food production and supply systems due to the growing demand for food and increasing purchasing power. The major focus now is not only feeding the population but also on environmental safety and health. It is evident from the study that the changing climate has caused a serious reduction in small-scale aquaculture profitability. The aspect of climate change that will be detrimental to aquaculture growth is torrential rains-induced floods. The research showed that climate change will compromise the profitability and sustainability of pond aquaculture through affecting the physical structure (ponds and tanks) of farms and the loss of fish stocks. The likely and most obvious outcome will be increasing poverty, food insecurity, and malnutrition. Farmers will be compelled to abandon ponds, stop production and become jobless if this trend continues, or adapt to the changes. This will not only decrease food and protein availability, but hinders the global goal to “end poverty, in all forms, everywhere” (
UN, 2018). Based on the findings, this study concludes that floods, rainfall temperature, and drought are the major climatic factors affecting the profitability and sustainability of the pond aquaculture industry. The preliminary recommendation is that there is an urgent need to map out flood-free zones close to perennial water bodies to overcome floods and droughts. Planting trees around ponds to create a micro-ecologies ideal for fish culture; additionally, the construction of water storage facilities and proper dyke design would overcome drought and erosion issues. Furthermore, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development should urgently develop a national policy on climate change and aquaculture, as well as establish climate change and fisheries/aquaculture unit to monitor and document all climate change issues.

The raw data associated with this study are available on OSF. DOI: (
Asiedu, 2018). Data are available under the terms of the
Creative Commons Zero “No rights reserved” data waiver (CC0 1.0 Public domain dedication).




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