The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD), in collaboration with the Fisheries Commission, has appealed to fishers to comply with the closed season directive which takes effect on Thursday, July 1.
Artisanal and inshore fleets would observe the month-long closed season from July 1 to 31 while industrial fleets would be from July 1 to August 31, 2021.
Speaking at a national ceremony held at Keta to officially declare the closure of the fishing season, Mrs Mavis Hawa Koomson, Minister of MoFAD, called on fishers to abide by the regulation introduced in 2016 to replenish the fish stock, following the slapping of a yellow card on Ghana for unsustainable fishing practices.
She said the closed season was to avoid over-exploitation of the fishery resource and to ensure acceptable fishing practices aimed to improve livelihoods of smallholder fishers, other users of the resource and the interest of folks in fishing dependent communities.
“Let’s all observe the closed season, stop Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing for the needed impact. I’m happy fisher groups gathered here have pledged that IUU fishing is going to be a thing of the past. Let us all abide by it. Even after the closed season, we’ll continue to monitor the sea and if you fall into my trap, I’ll not spare you. Let’s do the right thing and we’ll be on the safer side.”
Mrs Hawa Koomson said though the government would not offer cash donations during the closed season due to the large number of fishermen and women involved, some form of support, including fishing gear and food items would be given.
She hinted at the government’s plan to automate premix fuel supply to address fishers’ complaints of irregularity, insufficiency and hoarding by non-fishers of the highly subsidised product meant for them and insisted the product be used only for acceptable fishing and not for light fishing or to power irrigation farms.
The cultural performance-laced occasion which had Torgbui Sri III, the Awoamefia of Anlo, as the Chairman, saw representatives from four coastal regions of Greater Accra, Central, Western and Volta Regions, and other players in the sector, pledged their readiness to observe the closed season, declare zero tolerance for non-compliance and support the fight against IUU fishing to maximise gains.
Mr Stephen Adjokatcher, acting President of Ghana Industrial Trawlers Association, declared an end to ‘saiko’ (illegal fish trans-shipments) on Ghana’s sea, saying, “From today, saiko has stopped.”
Madam Cecilia Amede, Vice President, National Fish Processors and Traders Association, said they had never lived the meaning of their slogan “Say No to Bad Fish” and called on members to desist from buying fish from illegal means to put an end to the practice.
Torgbui Sri asked fisher folks not to see the closed season as punishment but as a measure necessary for the survival of their livelihoods.
He reminded the government to work towards redeeming pledges of a port and fish landing site for Keta, noting “these two projects are dear to my heart.”
The ceremony ended with the pouring of libation at the beach to offer traditional prayers to the gods and ancestors of the land for a successful closed season and a revival of the fishing industry.