About 14 fishing vessels have departed Ghana’s territorial waters for failing to comply with the country’s fishing regulations, Mr Moses Anim, Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development has said.
He said over the past few years, the Ministry had tightened regulations by strictly enforcing the Fisheries Acts (particularly Act 625) and increased surveillance on the country’s waters.
As a result, he said, some 14 fishing trawlers, which could not adhere to the regulations had been forced to exit the country’s waters.
Mr Anim disclosed this in an interview with the media on the sidelines of a Sustainable Fisheries Management forum held in Accra, on Wednesday.
The objective of the forum was to, among others, analyse current fisheries policies in the country and proffer alternative policies for the sustainability and management of the fisheries sector.
It was organised by the Environment for Development (EfD) Ghana in collaboration with the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic (ISSER) and University of Ghana.
The forum brought together local and international scholars, policymakers, Civil Society Organizations, graduate students, and other stakeholders.
Mr Anim said the Ministry together with the Fisheries Commission and NORAD conducted a survey on all fleets, which revealed that a significant number of trawlers operating in the country’s waters were using unapproved gear nets, causing depletion of fish stock.
“They were to use a net with a vertical opening of 10 metres, but they were rather using a net of a vertical opening of 40 metres,” he said.
As a result, he said, those trawlers harvested fishes such as pelagic, which they had not been licensed to catch, leading to depletion of the country’s fish stock.
“So, we approved net for them, then as a result of that we started implementing and enforcing the regulations (Act 625) as amended by Act 880 and its related regulation 1968, and then, I think they couldn’t match the heat, so they decided to leave.
“Fourteen of them could not match the heat, we are still holding onto them because we are saying that they should have taken authorisation before leaving.
The Fisheries Commission is still engaging, we are saying that they should put on their transponders so that we can know where they are as long as they are on Ghana’s flood so we will know their activities,” the Minister added.
He assured that the Ministry and the Fisheries Commission would subject all new fleets to rigorous licensing regime to check intruders.
“As I speak to you, between 30 to 40 last seasons were able to get their license because we are matching them to the regimental licensing regime that we’ve put in place,” he said.
He added that the Ministry was currently in the process of reviewing Act 625 of the Fisheries Act to give it more teeth to bite.
Professor Wisdom Akpalu, Director, EfD-Ghana, called on government to remove subsidies on premix fuel and channel the revenue into other profitable ventures.
“Some studies I have done in the immediate past indicate that only about 20 per cent of the subsidised fuel gets to fisher folks which is problematic. It means that about 80 per cent of the fuel that is subsidised disappears which is a cost to the nation,” he explained.
He added that “we have a situation where government spends about $40 million every year on the subsidies and the subsidies don’t really get to go the fishermen, that is one. Even if the subsidies go to the fishers, it is still problematic because we already have too much capacity in the fisheries.”
Prof Akpalu commended the Ministry for placing a three-year moratorium on new canoes and urged it to continue to implement the annual closed season to ensure the sustainability of the fish stock.
He also indicated that, to end illegal fishing popular known as “saiko”, the Ministry must scale up cameras on trawlers project to improve surveillance.