The implementing partners of the Improving Fisheries Governance project has commended the government for implementing the closed fishing season concurrently for all fleets, except tuna.
“We commend the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development and the Fisheries Commission for adhering to one of the recommendations by the fisheries Scientific and Technical Working Group (STWG) of Ghana in 2020 to directly engaging key fisher associations in deciding the date for this year’s closure in line with scientific recommendations is commendable”.
As recommended in the 2020 STWG report, the closed season should be implemented in combination with effective enforcement of existing laws, including but not limited to mesh size control and strict enforcement of the law on light, dynamite, and chemicals for the current and future closures to be biologically beneficial.
The implementing partners are Hen Mpoano, Friends of the Nation, Environmental Justice Foundation, Trygg Mat Tracking and Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea.
Government in June 2021, announced that the semi-industrial fleet were to desist from all activities on the sea from July 1 to July 31, 2021, while that of industrial trawl vessels take effect from July 1 to August 31, 2021.
Mr Donkris Mevuta, Executive Director, Friends of the Nation, addressing the media in Accra believed that the closed season must be supported by other management measures such as controlling overcapacity, limiting the number of boats on the sea to sustainable levels, and stopping all forms of Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.
The closed season policy under section 84 of the Fisheries Act, 2002 (Act 625), is intended to reduce effort and over-exploitation and fish stock replenishment in Ghana’s marine waters.
The measure is a major step towards rebuilding the marine fish stock that sustains the livelihood of over 2.7 million Ghanaians.
Mr Mevuta stated that replenishing the depleted marine could not be achieved if ‘saiko’ fishing continued unchecked, stressing that the illegality together with other forms of IUU fishing undermined the needed enabling environment for juvenile fish to grow.
Reports have shown that in 2017, saiko trade took from the sea about 100,000 tonnes of fish, worth over US$50 million when sold at the landing site. These fishes were predominantly juveniles.
Reports from both Civil Society Organisations and Academia showed that juvenile fish constituted over 90 per cent of saiko landings.
He urged the Ministry and the Fisheries Commission to ensure that industrial trawl vessels land all their catches at the two designated ports in Tema and Takoradi to allow for inspection of their catches.
“We wish to commend the Commission for its work in successfully undertaking a gear audit of the trawl vessels. As revealed in the report, industrial vessels have modified their gear to improve their efficiency in landing small pelagic fish,” he said.
Mr Mevuta urged the government to use the period of the closed season to review the observer programme to ensure that observers were trained and equipped with the requisite knowledge and provided with the logistics to safely monitor and accurately document and report activities on fishing vessels at sea.
“Improving regulations and monitoring, and enhancing transparency in fisheries management are the best weapons Ghana can use to stem illegal fishing that is driving its fish stocks to extinction,” he said.
He encouraged neighbouring countries working under the regional Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea to support the announcement of the 2021 closed season in Ghana with actions taken at their national level.
Nene Divine Obubuafo, the Public Relations Officer of, Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council, urged fishermen to adhere to the directives from the government on the closed season to have a bumper harvest of their catch.
Mr Socrates Apertorgbor Segbor, Fisheries Manager, Environmental Justice Foundation, was hopeful that the impact of the closed season would be felt between four to five years.
Mr Kyei Kwadwo Yamoah, the Progranmes Manager, advised the Fishermen to save their monies and had other diversified livelihoods to cushion them during the closed season.