Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) embarked on a major port expansion project at Tema in November 2016 by its Container Terminal Operator, Meridian Port Services Limited (MPS), under a BOT concession arrangement.
The proposed expansion site of 2 km beach was identified during the Environmental Impact Assessment studies as nesting habitat for Leatherback, Green and Olive Ridely turtles, classified as either vulnerable or endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of Threatened species. As a condition for the grant of EPA Permit, GPHA and MPS, in collaboration with other relevant stakeholders were obliged to create a compensatory environment for threatened species. A Sea Turtle Conservation Programme was commenced in 2018 to mitigate the impacts and ensure turtles protection. These measures were consistent with the International Finance Corporation’s Performance Standard 6 (PS6) for Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources.
Daily patrols were conducted along the beach site during the construction phase to reduce impact, and subsequently along a 11.3 km offset beach at Ningo-Prampram during the operational phase to offset the residual impact on turtles. Turtle eggs under threat of poaching, predation, inundation, or erosion in their natural environment were either protected in situ or safely relocated into a hatchery until they hatch, and then hatchlings were safely released into the sea. Community engagement and habitat improvement activities were also implemented at the offset site.
Since 2018 and to date, the project has saved over 117,527 turtle eggs and released over 89,871 hatchlings into the sea. The project has created employment through recruitment of youth as patrol team, and increased local community participation and awareness on turtle protection. Sanitation of the area has been improved through awareness and distribution of support items. The use of the hatchery as educational tool resulted in University, second cycle and elementary institutions learning about sea turtle conservation in Ghana. The Project has initiated plans to improve the local economy through the introduction of sea turtle ecotourism.