The Ghana Tuna Association (GTA) has said the high cost of doing business in Ghana was negatively affecting the fishing industry especially the operations of the tuna pole and line vessels.
Pole and line fishing is a method for catching tuna and other pelagic species, one fish at a time by scattering small bait fish such as anchovies onto the surface of the water to attract the target fishes. Fishers with hand-held poles attached with hooks to hook it as it eats the baits.
Mr Richster Amarh Amarfio, Secretary of the Ghana Tuna Association disclosed this to the Ghana News Agency on how to deal with illegal fishing amidst threats of an EU ban.
Mr Amarfio explained that out of 20 pole and line vessels, only six were currently working as they could not meet the high cost of fishing particularly the license fees, adding that it was reflecting in the low export figures.
He said the situation was leading to the gradual extinction of the pole and line operations in particular and added that the industry had a lot of challenges with cost of doing business both in the industrial, semi-industrial and artisanal sectors.
Mr Amarfio said high licensing fees, piracy threats and the consequent high cost of labour, among others had brought about massive decline in participating in the industry.
He said access for participation in the artisanal fishing sector also led to an unacceptable canoe-fish stock ratio as fishermen were devising whatever means to compete for survival.
“We have about 14,000 canoes, where we need about 9,000. That means an extra 5000 canoes per the statistics of the Fisheries Commission. That means if you have an average of 10 people per canoe that translates to 50,000 extra hands in the fishing industry. They would have to apply every means to survive since the fish stock is declining,” he said.
Mr Amarfio said the non-regulation of the artisanal and semi-industrial sector, and the ineffectiveness of the Fisheries Commission in research and trawl gear audit was making it difficult for Ghana to experience sustainable fishing practices.
He suggested that the problem of overcapacity could be solved by strategizing to introduce a reasonable pension scheme to encourage the aged to retire while putting the underage in school.
The GTA Secretary also recommended that a regulatory regime must be put in place to have artisanal, semi-industrial and industrial categories fish in specific species of fishes.
He said, for the local producers of tuna to adequately permeate the local market as opposed to imported tuna, the downstream supply value chain would have to be developed properly.
“If we have proper processing system, where fish could be smoked and vacuum packed, shelf life will be increased to access them like they do to canned fish. Research on this should be ongoing.”