, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 487-499

Fish and fisheries of the Muni lagoon in Ghana, West Africa

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Abstract

Muni is a closed lagoon that opens to the sea when the water level is high, especially during the rainy season. During the dry period, the water level is very low and the salinity of the lagoon water increases sometimes exceeding that of seawater. Only three finfish species and 8 shellfish species (live animals and empty shells) were found in the lagoon and surrounding wetlands during the study which was conducted in March–June 1994. The blackchin tilapia Sarotherodon melanotheron (Cichlidae) is the dominant species. The castnet is the most important fishing gear used in the lagoon followed by various finfish and shellfish traps. The fishing effort in the lagoon is high and, like catch rates, it was found to be inversely related to the volume of water in the lagoon and the fishing situation in the sea. The estimated exploitation level (E = 0.65) indicates that S. melanotheron in the Muni lagoon could be considered as over-exploited. From the gonadosomatic index, S. melanotheron appears to spawn continuously in the Muni lagoon between the months of March and June. The von Bertalanffy growth parameters were estimated for S. melanotheron as L = 12.5 cm standard length (SL), K = 0.70 yr−1 and t0 = 0.01 yr. The longevity of the fish is estimated as ca. 4.2 yr. Taboos and cultural practices contribute to the management and conservation of fisheries in the lagoon. However, additional formal management is required to ensure sustainability of the fisheries in the lagoon. In addition, there is a need to manage the lagoons physical and chemical environment including planting of mangroves around the lagoon in order to restore its mangrove cover. The poverty problem in the fishing community needs to be addressed to divert labour from the lagoon.