The Volta River Authority (VRA) has developed a “Framework for Aquaculture Development on the Volta Lake” to regulate aquaculture activities on the Volta Lake to save the Akosombo Hydroelectric Dam from environmental dangers as a result of unsustainable Aquaculture developments particularly Tilapia farming on the Volta Lake .
The approved Policy Document signed by the Chief Executive of VRA and cited by ENA directs that ” All aquaculture operators existing prior to April 2017 are required to enter into a “Water Lease” by October 2017″.
According to the Policy , unless under special circumstances and with very good reason, VRA at any particular time shall lease a maximum of five (5) hectares water surface area to each existing and prospective aquaculture operators.Also all areas to be leased are to be clearly demarcated with reflective buoys and at adequate distances between farms to avoid spread of diseases as may be determined by the regulators.
Aquaculture developers are prohibited from operating in water surface within the navigational zone of the Volta Lake as determined by the Volta Lake Transport Company or at sensitive installations such as domestic water intake points.
According to the Policy document, aquaculture developers wanting to operate on the Volta lake are also expected to secure valid permit from Environmental Protection Agency,EPA, a valid Work permits, if developer is an expatriate, Valid Water Use Permit from the Water Resource Commision, Production Permit from the Fisheries Commission and Developmental permit from their respective District Assembly before applying for Water Lease from the VRA for any Aquaculture activity .
Proponents are also expected to submit medical report on bilharzia and also expected to undertake annual screening for bilharzia infection as well as regular educational programme on Bilharzia prevention and control for all staff working directly at the project sites.According to the VRA, the Volta Lake and the hydroelectric dams at Akosombo and Akuse are national assets, which are vital to the economy and therefore must be protected and safeguarded.
“Currently, various aquaculture developments, including on-shore structural infrastructure, are ongoing on the Volta Lake System in Ghana and this must be controlled and monitored to ensure sustainability of aquaculture and fishing operations”.
The Power generation authority says, it is mindful of the environmental effects of unsustainable aquaculture developments on the Akosombo Dam hence the “Implementation Guidelines Document” provides general guidance for the implementations of the Framework Document with the guiding principle that aquaculture operators are to enter into a Lease with VRA for effective utilization of the water resource for a sustained hydropower generation.
VRA says ,in the event of an Aquaculture Operator reneging on conditions of the “Water Lease”, shall be required to demobilize from the Volta Lake as stated in the Lease ,also a legal action shall be taken against any aquaculture operator who fails to demobilize in line with the requirements of the “Water Lease”.