Power and access issues in Ghana's coastal fisheries: A political ecology of a closing commodity frontier
Primarily applied to land-based resources, academics have utilised the concept of commodity frontiers to understand the expansionary nature of capitalism, and the ways that existing hegemonies and systems of control and access of resources are challenged and altered. Following recent calls to expand this concept to marine spaces, this paper has used political ecology and in particular its focus on power and access to explore how capitalist expansion has impacted the means and methods of access to key resources in a small-scale marine fishing community in Ghana. The findings of the paper are based upon an eight-month field visit to Aboadze in the Western Region of Ghana, a traditional fishing community that is considered a ‘closing’ frontier, on account of recent research that suggests the small-pelagic fish stocks will collapse within a decade. The findings of the paper show that accessing fish and other necessary resources such as gear and capital has become increasingly difficult as stocks continue to dwindle, and those living in the case study community have to resort to unsustainable fishing methods in order to survive. The paper also finds that the vulnerability caused by decades of overfishing by foreign trawlers is felt disproportionately by certain members of the community, compounding existing vulnerabilities that arise through gender and class.
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