Artisanal fishers in the Central Region have expressed their frustration about the posture and lack of commitment by the Government in dealing with the illegal transshipment of fish popularly known as “Saiko”.
The fishermen say artisanal fishing was under severe threat and on the verge of collapse.
They said though the Government promised to end Saiko in its 2020 budget, no action had been taken and the practice continued unabated with no sign in sight of its abolition.
They have therefore called on the President, NanaAddo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to intervene to permanently save the livelihoods of Ghanaians in fishing communities.
“The destructive practice mainly done by Chinese Industrial trawlers, target the staple catch of artisanal fishers, harvest them, freeze them into pallets of fish and sell to agents at high seas, who in turn sell to the fishing communities for huge profit”, they said.
“As we speak, we are in our major fish season of bumper harvest (July to September) but there is very little or no catch at all in many fishing communities”.
Addressing the media on the issue, Nana Kweigya, an Executive Member of the Central Region branch of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council who spoke on their behalf, lamented that the practice persists despite the relevant marine fishing laws and regulations enacted by the Country against it.
“Both the Fisheries Act 2002 and Fisheries regulations 2010 explicitly prohibit Saiko, yet the regulator looks on”, they lamented indicating that such catch was the sole preserve of artisanal fishers by law.
They further outlined the severely destructive activities of Saiko which they indicated was increasingly driving the decline in marine stock, destroying the marine environment, and eroding the potential of marine resources.
He stressed that Saiko canoes were designed for transporting frozen fish and not for fishing but they were always landing fish at the Elmina, Apam, and Axim ports for onward sale to local markets.
“Saiko is a threat to livelihoods of over 2.7 million Ghanaians, including breadwinners of both genders invoking about 140,000 Fishermen and fishmongers. Saiko is a threat to food security and nutrition, a threat to job and income security and practically a threat to national security”, he stated.
“Why should this happen when we strive to achieve Goal 14 of the SDGs of which our President is an eminent Co-Chair of the SFG advocate group”, he quizzed.