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Nature and pattern of lagoon fisheries resource utilisation and their implications for waterbird management in coastal Ghana

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Seasonal patterns in human fisheries resource utilisation and the capture characteristics of fish, swimming crabs and land crabs harvested from four coastal lagoons in Ghana between September 2005 and August 2007 are described. These are discussed in relation to sustainable management of the lagoons' fisheries for both human and waterbird use. With the exception of small pelagic foraging fish-eating birds, human fishing practices in the lagoons were in direct competition with crab- and fish-eating birds, because of the overlap of same-sized fish and crabs, and also in indirect competition because many of the exploited fish and crabs were immature. Fishing practices were also in direct competition with food foraging by invertebrate-eating birds. Intense exploitation of swimming crabs was linked to the use of drag nets, in comparison to the exclusive use of cast nets in some lagoons. In order to reduce the incidence of waterbird-human interactions and conflict during the energy-demanding phase of the birds' non-breeding season, it is recommended that the practice of closed seasons be extended to include crab fisheries and be strictly enforced at all Ramsar sites on the Ghanaian coast.
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