Fishermen in the Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions have called on the government to stop what they described as “imposed closed season” for fishermen in the country.
They said: “The issue of dwindling fish stock has become a global issue that must be tackled holistically because it has been with us for decades”.
“We are not oblivious of the challenges and that is why we are working closely with the sector ministry and other stakeholders to have the situation improved tremendously.”
Mr Kofi Adaboh, leader of the fishermen association was speaking at a news conference to address some challenges confronting the industry at Elmina in the Komenda-Edina-Eguaafo-Abrem (KEEA) municipality of the Central Region on Wednesday.
He refuted media reports suggesting bumper catch after the closed season last year, and stated that they were yet to see any improvement in their expeditions.
“Several months after the opening of the closed season by the Ministry, artisanal fisherfolk are yet to see any improvements in our catches” because the exercise had not favoured them, but rather foreign vessels and called for a second look in the coming closed season.
“We agreed to have the closed season because of the assurances. It seems the closed season meant for artisanal fisherfolk has rather come to help the Chinese vessels, which made lots of catch when we were at home. How do the small fish grow and multiply?, he queried.
Again, he refuted claims that some fish species thought to be extinct, including; small herrings were caught last year by some fishermen.
However, the fishermen commended the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development for placing a ban on fishing by industrial trawlers from August 1 to October 1, 2019, and pointed out that “the Chinese industrial trawlers were the ones depleting the fish stock and not artisanal fishermen.”
The fishermen urged the sector ministry to increase the fine for industrial trawlers, which according to them took Ghana’s marine space to ransom.
“The ministry’s threat to fine any vessel that flouts the directive on close season with a $1-million fine is a chicken fees to the industrial trawlers and must be increased to not less than $3 million among other punitive functions.”
They charged the ministry to put in place enough monitoring mechanisms to ensure that the ban was adhered to.
According to them, monitoring by the Ghana Navy and the Marine Police in addition to installed tracking devices on licensed fishing vessels would not be effective without the full support and education by local fishermen to be on the lookout for trawlers that will contravene the order.