Environmental Location Assessment for Seaweed Cultivation in Ghana: A Spatial Multi-Criteria Approach

Environmental Location Assessment for Seaweed Cultivation in Ghana: A Spatial Multi-Criteria Approach

Alexander Yao Segbefia (Department of Geography and Rural Development, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana), Victor Rex Barnes (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana), Lawrence Atsu Akpalu (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana) and Moses Mensah (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/IJAGR.2018010104
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This study was designed to select potential areas for the cultivation of seaweeds on the Ghanaian coastline. The challenge of selecting suitable sites for the cultivation of seaweed along the coast was investigated, using spatial multi-criteria approach in GIS. Environmental and physical parameters based on spatial multi-criteria decision for the best sites suitable for seaweed cultivation were used. The parameters used included Sea-depth (1-10)m, (11-20)m, (21-30)m and (31-40)m, sea-surface temperature (24-26) degree Celsius, proximity to settlements (0-8) kilometers and sheltered coves (areas sheltered from strong wind and waves) as variables for the various models. The study identified twelve suitable sites along the coast of Ghana for seaweed cultivation. Five of the selected sites were ground-truthed for model validation. All five validation sites have agreed to the GIS models indicating that GIS is the most appropriate tool to use for selecting most suitable environment for seaweed cultivation especially when dealing with a complex coastal environment like Ghana's coastline.
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Seaweeds provide food products for human consumption and can be used as fertilizers, animal feeds, and serve as inputs to pharmaceuticals (Fisheries and Aquacultures, 2013). Seaweeds have been acknowledged as the feedstock of the future and algae is attracting increased investment interest from biofuels, petroleum and agribusiness industries. However, seaweeds have become a menace to fishers along Ghana’s coastline. In an effort to manage the seaweed menace along the coast and at the same time derive economic benefits from seaweeds, the Seaweed Bio-refinery Project of Ghana (SeaBioGha), a Biorefinery Project being implemented by the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), and the Water Research Institute (WRIG) of Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Ghana intend to engage in massive seaweed cultivation in the coastal marine waters.

In order to transform what is now considered a menace to a sustainable and profitable alternative livelihood activity through the collection, sorting and sale of freely arriving seaweeds on the coast, the SeaBioGha Project seeks to establish cultivation of seaweeds along Ghana’s 540km coastline and establish relevant technology for the cultivation and processing of seaweed products in Ghana, and utilize the residues for bio-energy production.

In considering the social and economic prospects from seaweed cultivation, selecting the right environmental location for stable growth is paramount. For example, In Brazil, de Sousa et al. (2012) used Geographic Information System (GIS) to select appropriate locations for Seaweed (Gracilaria birdiae) cultivation. In another study, Sulma et al. (2008) also used remote sensing data to identify ecologically suitable sites for the cultivation of seaweeds. These selected sites were primarily based on water biophysical parameters, which include sea surface temperature, total suspended matter, bathymetry, sheltered coast and current movement. According to Kronen (2010), incorrect sea surface temperatures could result in seaweed loss due to filamentous epiphyte polysophonia and ice-ice disease.

Seaweeds (macro algae) have been inundating the shores of Ghana for decades now and among them are green, brown and red algae which includes Ulva fasciata, Sargassum vulgare and Hypnea musciformes (Nunoo and Ameka, 2005; Gbedemah, 2014). Hypnea originates from Trieste in Italy, and is now spreading throughout the world including Africa (IUCN/SSC/ISSG, 2004, Holst et. al, 1994). The practice of aquaculture and movements of boats and vessels influence the distribution of the Hypnea seaweed (IUCN/SSC/ISSG, 2004). On the other hand, the invasion of Sargassum seaweed along the coast of Ghana is believed to have originated from the Sargasso Sea. Its spread is facilitated by current flow along the West African coastline from Senegal, Cote D’Ivoire all the way to Ghana. The presence of S. vulgare was detected in Ghana in 2009. This seaweed later increased in quantity in 2012-2014 especially, in the western part of the country with serious implications for continued coastal activities. In addition to Hypnea and Sargassum, Ghanaian fishermen in the Western region have observed that the prevailing Guinea current has moved U. fasciata to within 2 km offshore of New Town (Granger et.al 2012).

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