The implementing partners of the Improving Fisheries Governance (IFG) project, have called on the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development and the Fisheries Commission to ensure equity in enforcing laws on fisheries across all sectors of the fishing industry to build trust.
The IFG project is being implemented by a consortium of partners namely, Hen Mpoano, Friends of the Nation (FoN), Environmental Justice Foundation, Trygg Mat Tracking and Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea.
The partners are working together to strengthen government and industry commitment to improve fisheries governance in key policy areas and to enhance transparency, law enforcement, collaborative management, and capacity building of the key stakeholders in Ghana and the West African Region.
They have underscored the need for all stakeholders to work together to build a fisheries industry that was profitable, resilient, and sustainable.
During a press engagement on the fight against Illegal Unregulated Unreported fishing (IUU) in Ghana, the partners commended the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, the Fisheries Enforcement Unit and the Monitoring and Control Surveillance Division of the Fisheries Commission for demonstrating considerable resolve to stamp out IUU fishing in Ghana’s marine waters.
Mr Kyei Kwadwo Yamoah, Programmes Manager of Friends of the Nation (FoN), who addressed the media on behalf of the project said despite Government’s efforts to improve upon the governance of the fisheries sector, the sector was beset with several problems including, extensive light fishing and brazen acts of disobedience evidenced by numerous cases on non-compliance and weak enforcement.
According to him, Ghana was at a crossroads as its small-scale fisheries were in steep decline with landings plummeting from 298,249 metric tonnes in 1996 to 179,721 metric tonnes in 2016, despite an increase in the number of canoes from 8,626 in 1996 to a 11583 in 2016.
“Regrettably, whereas historically Ghana’s fisheries were able to sustain the nutritional needs of the population, the country today imports more than half of the fish it consumes. This cannot be a business-as-usual situation”, he said.
Mr. Yamoah observed that with much concern the violent backlash and attacks on the Fisheries Enforcement Unit (FEU) in their line of duty by some fisher folks and condemned these acts in no uncertain terms.
“We would like to further, use this medium to appeal to all actors in the fisheries sector particularly the artisanal fisheries actors to desist from attacking law enforcers who are just doing their work in accordance with the law”, he said
He further urged the fishers to engage in responsible fishing and to voluntarily comply with all fisheries laws and regulations governing the industry to ensure sanity and sustainability of the industry.
Nana Kwadwo Konduah V, the Chief fisherman of Abuesi, where the fishermen accused of obstructing officials of the FEU from performing their duty at the shore, and rendered an unqualified apology to the Ministry of Fisheries.
He pledged to ensure that such a thing did not happen again and pleaded with the Minister of Fisheries to temper justice with mercy.