Effects of Small-Scale Mining Activities on Fisheries and Livelihoods in the Birim River in Atiwa District, Eastern Region of Ghana
The socioeconomic importance of small-scale mining in Ghana is of great interest to the country. It provides employment, supports the livelihood of poor rural areas, and also contributes to national income. Despite all these importance, it has a great influence on the surroundings, with surface and groundwater bodies being the most affected. The study was conducted to determine the effects of small-scale mining activities on fisheries and livelihoods along the Birim River in Atiwa District of Ghana, and also, to ascertain the nature of mining in the catchment and the current status of fisheries in the river. Data were collected with a help of open and closed ended questionnaire and fishers were sampled using purposive sampling method. Findings revealed that fishing activity was vibrant before 2010, but declined afterward. Respondents indicated that the number of fishers who went fishing daily before 2010 decreased drastically after 2010. Also, before 2010, most of the fishers (62%) used fishing nets compared to that after 2010. About 74% of respondents revealed that they could harvest at most 5 crates of fish a day before 2010, while about 38.6% of respondents indicated they could harvest 5 crates after 2010; thus 25 kg per day before 2010. It was revealed that 34% of respondents indicated they could make above $10 daily before 2010 as against 2% making $10 per day after 2010. About 90% of the respondents attributed their levels of harvest and average income per day to the effects of mining, with the reason being that miners wash their products in the river (52%), thus polluting the waterbody. Mining in water locally and commonly known as “changfan” was the main type of mining in the study area. From the findings, it is concluded that small-scale mining has detrimental effects on aquatic ecology and has resulted in the creation of deep pits which destroy gears, increasing the costs of gear repairs, fishing effort, and pollutes water (physical and chemical factors). Hence, it is recommended that there should be a ban on all small-scale mining in and around water bodies as this has detrimental effects on water quality and reduce fishing in the area.
Keywords: Pollution; small-scale mining; Birim River; Changfan; Atiwa; Ghana
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