The fisheries management plan specifically aims to reduce excessive pressure on fish stock, and ensure fish stocks are exploited within biological acceptable levels. In addition, the plan seeks to ensure effective implementation of fisheries legislation, strengthen participatory decision making in fisheries to meet regional and global obligations in fisheries.
The fisheries management plan, developed by the Fisheries Commission, has become a necessity due to excessive fishing effort everted in all fisheries, inadequate information on fisheries biology and stock as well as regulations and weak enforcement of existing regulations, low levels of protection of marine biodiversity and Inadequate procedures in certifying fish for export.
The fisheries management plan has outlined some key action plans to rebuild fisheries stock. One of the significant action plans is the creation of habitat protection areas for spawning grounds in estuaries or mangroves, in addition to controlling the number and capacity of vessels in efforts to rebuild fisheries stock.
The action plans also set a target to achieve 50% reduction in fishing days over the next five years, as well as to reduce fishing effort through strict implementation of the sanctions framework under the Fisheries (Amendment) Act 2014 to promote procreation of fishes to achieve nutrition security.
Moreover, the action plans also will undertake survey and registration of active canoes, increase the traditional one day per week fishing holiday to two days per week, and control/moratorium on new entrants to the fishery.
Others are to improve social intervention through the implementation of insurance and pension scheme for fishermen, implementation of co-management for the artisanal sector, and modernisation of the fleet by using innovative materials to control increasing effort number of canoes.
The women fish processors at a forum held on August 2, in Winneba in the central region, organised by Development Action (DAA), a farmer based organisation and one of the implementing partners of the Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP) by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID/Ghana) and Fisheries Commission called on fellow women and fishermen in the fisheries sector to adhere to management plan to prevent a total collapse of the fisheries sector.
The five year USAID’s SFMP seeks to rebuild marine fisheries stocks and catches through the adoption of responsible fishing practices.
Gertrude Imprim, a fish processor based in Winneba, called for called for consistent communication on the closed season, which the plan seeks to initiate to ensure complete adherence to the directive.
Another fish processor, Betty, called for the closed season for entire jurisdiction of the sea and not parts of the sea.
Stella Quartey, a fish processor expressed concerns about light fishing, saying that in the olden days without light fishing, fishermen were able to engage in fishing and encountered few or no problems, therefore authorities have to put in place all measures to end it.
The chief fisherman for Winneba, Nana Kofi Kaikoo, urged fishermen in the country to desist from using chemicals in fishing and obey the closed season once it begins.
The Director of Projects at the Fisheries Commission, Mr Thomas Insaidoo, says it is extremely difficult to have bumper season due to inappropriate fishing practices deployed by stakeholders in the industry.
Mr Insaidoo urged the women fish processors to apply sustainable fisheries management practices in fishing activities especially when fisheries stock is on decline in the country.
According to him, there is abundant pollution along the coastal belt posing as danger to procreation of fish, saying, fishes require clean environment to mature properly.
The Executive Director for DAA, Lydia Sasu also said the sea is being destroyed due to usage of dynamite by fishermen accounting for low stock in fisheries.
She indicated that due this practice, poverty levels among people operating in the fisheries sector has gone up hereby resulting in some parents to give up their children to the practice of child labour and trafficking.
She therefore called for pragmatic measures from all stakeholders by working together to protect the sea from further destruction through human induced activities to ensure continuous fishing to achieve nutrition security and income for women fish processors.
As a local partner to the SFMP, she noted that the project entreats women other stakeholders to engage in sustainable fishing activities such as mangrove preservation, which is very essential to sustainable fishing.
She explained that the forum was organised to provide the platform for the women fish processors to learn e fisheries management plan to promote acceptable practices as far as fishing is concerned.
Mr Kofi Agbogah, the Director of Hen Mpoano, a non-governmental organisation and also a local partner to the SFMP, said the closed season once fully observed would lead to full replenishment of the fisheries stock to improve livelihoods of fish processors, largely made up of women.
He stated that the police and military would be charged to ensure the closed season directive is respected by all stakeholders.
He cautioned against women patronage and selling of fishes caught using chemicals as they pose health problems to consumers.
The ministry of fisheries and aquaculture development and the fisheries commission developed the fisheries management plan in accordance with the fisheries Act 2002 and with stakeholder consultation in order to address issues identified for the marine fisheries sector.
The plan is a demonstration of the government commitment to implement a robust fisheries management plan to ensure long term conservation of its fish stocks whiles at the same time contributing to improved food safety at a national level.
By Samuel Hinneh