The Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Ministry is seeking Cabinet approval to draft a new Fisheries Act that meets all international obligations in relation to illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activities in Ghana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Besides, Cabinet has advised that the Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy (2008) should be reviewed to form the basis for the appraisal of the current fisheries law.
Additionally, the Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy 2021, validated by stakeholders on November 4, 2021, would be submitted to cabinet for approval and gazetted for implementation in 2022.
Mrs Mavis Hawa Koomson, the sector Minister, said this when she appeared before Parliament to respond to an urgent question by Mr Alexander Afenyo-Markin, the Deputy Majority Leader and MP for Effutu, on what measures are being implemented following the second warning issued by the European Union for Ghana to check illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing activities within its EEZ.
The European Union (EU) issued Ghana with a Yellow Card on June 2, 2021 for being identified as a non-compliant country in the fight against IUU fishing.
The issues the EU raised included weaknesses in Ghana’s fisheries laws, outdated Marine Management Plan, non-implementation of Closed Season, Illegal transshipment at sea (saiko), and weak enforcement of vessels cited for Infractions.
Madam Koomson informed Parliament that Ghana had taken critical steps to address all the concerns within 24 months.
She explained that the Ministry had set up three dialogue missions with the EU to address the concerns and the first meeting was held on July 23, 2021, where the EU was briefed on the plans.
She said the report on actions taken by the Ministry was submitted to the EU Dialogue Team on November 11, 2021.
Stakeholder consultations on the Draft Marine Fisheries Management Plan (2022-2026) is ongoing and the last engagement was held with Civil Society Organisations and Academia in October this year.
A new National Plan of Action on IUU fishing (2021-2025), which is being implemented by the Fisheries Commission was deposited with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations on May 5, 2021.
Madam Koomson explained that the Ministry, as part of implementing the National Plan of Action, had placed observers on all industrial vessels during fishing expeditions and the Closed Season.
The Awutu Senya East MP said the Ministry has increased sensitization of fishers, both industrial and artisanal, on the fisheries laws and regulations.
She said the Fisheries Enforcement Unit had intensified sea inspections and beach combing operations to monitor compliance of fisheries laws and regulations.
Madam Koomson cited the arrests and seizure of illegal equipment used for fishing in Ada, Moree, Abandze, Dago, Saltpond Komenda, Abuesi and Shama, whiles the supply of premix fuel to these communities were suspended to serve as a deterrent.
She said Cabinet had granted approval for the purchase of patrol boats and a research vessel to strengthen visibility at sea and data collection management for decision-making and planning purposes.
“Issues with the Vessel Monitoring System and the Automatic Identification System have been rectified and are now operational and vessel activities are strictly monitored for compliance.”
The Ministry had increased collaboration with the Ghana Navy, Marine Police, and the security agencies involved in the Fisheries Enforcement Unit to monitor and arrest offenders for prosecution.