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Squeaker catfish (Synodontis macrophthalmus)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 222530365

Promoting the recovery of the Critically Endangered Squeaker catfish (Synodontis macrophthalmus) population endemic to Volta Basin, Ghana

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 222530365) - Squeaker catfish - Awarded $7,000 on February 02, 2023

The Synodontis macrophthalmus, a Critically Endangered freshwater fish exclusive to the Volta Lake in Ghana, faces severe threats that could lead to its extinction. The project addresses the issue of paucity in scientific information on the species' population status in Ghana, hindering effective conservation measures.

The initial survey identified fishing hotspots in Ampem, Adowso, Kpong, and Akateng, where local fishers provided valuable insights. Ampem and Akateng were chosen for further investigation based on interviews and local ecological knowledge of fishers. In July 2023, an ecological survey focused on assessing the aquatic environment and the occurrence and distribution of Synodontis species in the Afram arm of the Volta Lake.

S. macrophthalmus accounted for a small proportion (2.9%) of the total Synodontis species sampled in Ampem and Akateng. The species showed a seasonal occurrence, with the peak period for catching S. macrophthalmus from June to February. The survey recorded S. macrophthalmus with a standard length of approximately 21.00 cm, a total length around 23.67 cm, and an average weight of 248.50 g.

The study also revealed a concerning observation of high fishing pressure on the Critically Endangered Synodontis macrophthalmus, despite their limited range. Specifically, in the two fishing communities of Ampem and Akateng, approximately 80 sets of gill nets, each measuring about 40 meters in length, specifically target the Synodontis species.

Next, the project team will conduct a comprehensive habitat assessment and engage with local fishermen to promote conservation education, focusing on preserving S. macrophthalmus. This assessment aims to identify crucial survival factors, including water quality and potential threats. Involving local fishermen acknowledges their significance in the ecosystem and aims to raise awareness of sustainable fishing practices to minimize negative impacts on the species.

The need for urgent conservation efforts to safeguard Synodontis macrophthalmus is critical, emphasizing the significance of collaboration between researchers and local communities to ensure the species' survival in Ghana. In the upcoming months, my focus will be on working closely with the fishers in Ampem and Akateng, as well as other stakeholders, to effectively protect and preserve the S. macrophthalmus population in Ghana.

Project 222530365 location - Ghana, Africa