November 5, 2011: Ghana, a small West African country with a population of 24 million, is rapidly expanding its navy. Until recently, the navy had 2,000 personnel and seven patrol boats. But within the next few years, that will expand to over twenty patrol craft. The most recent acquisitions are four 46 meter (143 foot) patrol boats from China. These have a crew of 30 and are armed with 14.5mm and 7.62mm machine-guns, plus small arms carried by the crew. Ghana plans to acquire a dozen of this type, including two built in Ghana. The navy is also getting used patrol ships from the United States and other countries.
The rush to expand the navy is ostensibly to deal with increased drug smuggling and piracy. These two problems are actually quite minor. The real reason for more ships is to rein in destructive practices by the two million Ghanaian fishermen. Fish are a lucrative resource, and too many Ghanaians are overfishing the best species. If the navy cannot control the size of the catch, many key species will be wiped out, and many Ghanaian fishermen will be out of work.