Traditional Fisheries Management of Lake Bosomtwe, a Sacred Lake in Ghana: Past, Present and Future
Lake Bosomtwe is an ancient meteoritic impact crater lake, situated near Kumasi in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. The lake is highly prized as a major source of freshwater fish supply, livelihoods, and a resort attraction. The lake is held sacred because of the legend surrounding its discovery. Its predominantly cichlid fishery has been managed for many centuries only by laws that were shrouded in taboos or traditional religious prohibitions. Human activities with the tendency to upset the spirits believed to be dwelling in the lake, such as excessive agitation of the water, noise-making, fishing on a sacred day and the use of conventional nets were prohibited and outlawed. The chiefs, at the instance of the priests of the local shrines, demanded ritual (animal and drink) sacrifices from offenders in cases of non-observance of the taboos to pacify and avert the wrath of the spirits. Although, the laws were essentially traditional religious commandments they were not without connotations for conventional fisheries management. Currently, however, virtually all the traditional fisheries rules and regulations appear to have broken down, as modernity seems to have eroded their relevance, with the result that there is a serious overfishing and depletion of the fish stocks. Nevertheless, recovery of the dwindled fisheries is possible by blending conventional management practices and the traditional laws that are still deemed relevant.
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