Mr Richster Nii Amarh Amarfio, a Fisheries Advocate, has asserted that the astronomical increment in fishing licensing fees is affecting operations of fishing vessels in the country, and called for a review to restore hope in the industry.
He said the situation was not only affecting the fishing industry, but was impacting negatively on the operations of vessels on Ghana’s territorial waters.
He said in Ghana, $135 per Gross Registered Tonnage (GRT), an increase from $35 per GRT, was being charged on the weight of their vessels, adding that such high fees were affecting their businesses.
Mr Amarfio, who is also the Director of Operations for Laif Fisheries, stated at the “Ghana News Agency-Tema Regional Industrial News Hub Boardroom Dialogue,” which is a media think-tank platform for commercial and business operators to communicate to the world.
He cited that Senegal had just gotten its own flag vessels and they paid a moderate charge of $20 per GRT.
He added that vessels that left Ghana to Sierra Leone and Liberia for fishing, paid about $60,000 annually, and comparatively, it was not fair to Ghanaian operators to pay such high charges.
Apart from that, he said the cost of running the vessels was a major problem as their fuel was deregulated with surging cost, adding that some vessels spent about $50,000 on fuel, a situation affecting their businesses.
Government, he said, needed broad stakeholder engagement particularly with vessel operators (Tuna and Trawlers) to have an understanding of the fishing industry, as that would enable it know and appreciate some of their challenges at first hand and find appropriate remedies to them.
According to him, anchovies (a palegic fish species) used as bait for harvesting tuna was available, but the method of harvesting them was challenging because they were needed as bait and not target fish, which required some light attraction.
“We need just about 50 kilograms of anchovies per trip and some light attractions to use them as bait,” he added, and explained that using light as attractions to get baits for fishing would save time and cost.
“But if you need to spend two weeks at bait ground in search, how much time will you spend for fishing, and because it is for a fortnight, the bait gets stressed up and you might have to return to the fishing ground without getting live anchovies and will result in the start of the entire process,” he further explained.
He said governments, in dealing with such challenges, should give operators some administrative clearance to use light to catch bait, stating that in future, research should be conducted on how they could carry out bait farming in a mariculture to be supplied to vessels.
Mr Amarfio, who is also an industry player, further suggested that a stakeholders’ forum on how to revive the sector was needed, explaining that, there was also need to increase the Ghanaian stake in the sector with government providing some more support in terms of loans in acquiring vessels.
Mr. Francis Ameyibor, Tema Regional Manager of the GNA, on his part said, as industrial new hub, we found the need to engage those in the industry on national issues to educate the public.
“As Industrial News Hub, GNA-Tema has created a platform for industrial players to use, for other stakeholders to reach out in a proactive means while serving as grounds to address national issues,” he said.
He said it was common knowledge that a lot of things happened at sea and in the fishing industry that the public needed more enlightenment on, therefore the need to engage the GTA to throw light on its sector.
Mr Ameyibor explained that, activities on the sea was one of the most dynamic but under-reported from the media therefore the Agency had created a platform to offer stakeholders news channel to reach out to the world.
He noted that GNA-Tema office branded as the Industrial News Hub, seeks to help fill ocean news gap, the need for better reporting on sea and fisheries issues, as life on the sea affects the general livelihood of people, as the level of consumption of fish in the country was large.