Socioeconomic dynamics of the Ghanaian tuna industry: a value-chain approach to understanding aspects of global fisheries

Published in: African Journal of Marine Science
Volume 40, issue 3, 2018 , pages: 303–313
DOI: 10.2989/1814232X.2018.1513866
Author(s): E Drury O’NeillStockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden, NK AsareDepartment of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Ghana, DW AhetoDepartment of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Ghana


This study investigated how an industrial tuna fishery functions in terms of procedures, practices, governance and finance in the context of Ghana, West Africa. Tuna is Ghana’s biggest seafood export, contributing significantly to the domestic fisheries sector. A case-study approach was used to analyse relevant social and economic factors at the local scale to better understand how the global seafood industry operates in a low-income country. A value-chain framework was adopted to assess market structures, sales pathways and revenue distribution. We also investigated the role of actors engaged in the industry using secondary data, interviews, questionnaires and participant observations. The results revealed a changing organisational structure in tuna production, moving from bait-boat fishing with smaller companies to large-scale purse-seine fishing backed by consolidated Asian seafood companies. Production was found to depend significantly on local female intermediaries for access to funds through prefinancing arrangements. Considerable illegalities were identified within the value chain, highlighting the need for improved partnership and licensing negotiations, and for low-cost marine control and surveillance tools. As vertical integration increases within the industry, the influence of corporations as keystone actors becomes evident for the future social and ecological sustainability of the industry.

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