Obtaining A Fishing License In Ghana

The Fisheries Act, 2002 provides for several different types of licenses with varying licensing requirements for each one. All license applications are submitted to the Fisheries Commission, in a form and manner prescribed by the Commission.

Local Industrial and Semi-Industrial Fishing Vessels/ Non-Local Industrial and Semi-Industrial Fishing Vessels

Any local or non-local industrial or semi-industrial fishing vessel applying for a fishing license must first be registered under the Merchant Shipping Act, 1963 (183) or in the vessel’s country of origin. It must also be approved for seaworthiness by the Fisheries Commission.

A vessel is classified as local if it is owned by a Ghanaian citizen, a registered Ghanaian corporation, or the Ghanaian government. The application should be made in writing to the Fisheries Commission in a manner to be determined by the Commission along with the required documents and fees. The fees are to be determined by the Commission and paid in US dollars. The Commission may request further information in order to process the application and may place restrictions on the license as it sees fit.

Artisanal Fishing

An application for this type of license must be applied for through the Fisheries Commission in a form determined by the Commission. The Commission may direct the application to be routed through the district where the vessel is located. The license must specify its period of validity, indicate the activity for which the license will be issued, and the vessel must bear the markings assigned to it by the Commission. There are fees for both issuance and renewal of this license that must be paid in cedis.

Aquaculture and Recreational Fishing

Applications for aquaculture or recreational licenses must be made to the Fisheries Commission along with an environmental impact assessment. A license for aquaculture will specify the type of organism to be farmed, and is not transferable.


Licenses for canoes must be applied for through the Fisheries Commission. The vessels themselves must be owned by a Ghanaian citizen or corporation, be registered through the Commission by way of the District Assembly where the canoe is located, and bear the markings assigned to the vessel.

Foreign Fishing Vessels

Foreign fishing vessels seeking a Ghanaian fishing license must first register in their flag state and be certified as seaworthy by the International Association of Classification Societies before beginning the application process.


The Fisheries Act requires that all vessels transshipping or exporting tuna from Ghanaian waters be licensed or have the written permission of the Minister upon the advice of the Commission.

Research Vessels

Research vessels may be exempted from any part of the Fisheries Act with written permission of the Minister and upon the advice of the Commission.

AUTHOR: AB Lexmall & Associates

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