The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development has started a pilot deployment of an Electronic Monitoring System (EMS) on industrial trawlers as part of measures to sustain Ghana’s fisheries.
Madam Hawa Koomson, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, who launched the exercise, said the six-month pilot project would be carried out on three vessels volunteered by the Ghana Industrial Trawlers Association (GITA).
Madam Koomson said the pilot project was funded and technically supported, respectively, by the USAID-sponsored Ghana Fisheries Recovery Activity (GERA) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) at a cost of USD$250,000.
Madam Koomson said the EMS would be fully installed on all the licensed industrial trawlers and Tuna vessels in Ghana by December 2025.
She said that even though a total of 74 trawlers have been registered by the Ministry, currently only 30 have had their licenses renewed.
She said during the pilot project, other activities would include the establishment of the monitoring and control centre, training of Fisheries Commission officers in handling, deployment of EMS equipment, and analysis of EMS data.
She said the deployment of the EMS on the industrial trawlers would help to monitor the activities of pirates and check Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing practices, transshipment at sea between trawlers and artisanal canoes, and the use of illegally modified gears to catch small pelagic fish and juvenile fish as bycatch and the dumping of fish at sea by the trawlers.
The EMS, she said, used onboard video cameras, the Global Positioning System (GPS), and sensors to automatically track and verify fishing activities on board fishing vessels, adding that the data and information collected from the EMS could be used to monitor and enhance compliance with available regulations.
The Fisheries Minister expressed the expectation that the EMS would complement existing measures being implemented by the Ministry, such as the Ministerial Directive on Trawl Gear, the application of VMS and AIS, port inspections, and the Observer programme.
She added that it would also improve transparency and provide better oversight for Ghana to discharge its flag-state responsibility.
Mr. Steve Adzokatse, the President of the Ghana Industrial Trawlers Association, expressed their support for the programme to help fight IUU as well as sustain the country’s dwindling fisheries.
Mr. Adzokatse however called on the Ministry to collaborate with them and share needed information with them to ensure the success of the monitoring programme.