Law enforcement and regulatory bodies have confiscated a total of 128 sizeable pieces of mudfish being harvested from a polluted storm drain in the Ho Municipality.
A joint operation by the Environmental Health Department, the Food and Drugs Authority, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Police, swooped in on a group of men trapping the fishes under a culvert near the Tarso hotel segment of the drain.
Madam Stella Kumedzro, Regional Environmental Health Officer (REHO), told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) that the fish were seized in the interest of public safety, as the probability of E.coli and salmonella infestation was likely.
She said the catch would be subjected to a series of examinations after which it would be either discarded or returned to the fisherfolk depending on the outcomes of the analysis.
“We were alerted that a group of people were harvesting mud fish from drains in the Municipality. Other relevant agencies were alerted and we went there early and intercepted 128 mudfish or catfish with a street value of GHC about 4,000.
It’s a big drain where people drop waste and defecate, and we are suspecting that there could be E.coli and salmonella. There could also be some toxic chemicals,” Madam Kumedzro stated.
The REHO added that stakeholders were unsure whether or not the fish from the drain had reached the public, and appealed that all must be vigilant.
“We don’t know if some had already been harvested and found its way into the public domain. Although it’s not safe for public consumption, it might be possible some are in the public domain, and the public must be cautioned,” she said.
The REHO added that relevant stakeholders were on the alert, and that surveillance was being heightened throughout the region following the incident.
Mr Gorden Akurugu, Volta Regional Head of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) said his outfit fears the contamination of high levels of microbes and the possibility of the presence of heavy metals in the source water that is stagnant due to the effect of the harmattan.
He said one of the FDA’s cardinal mandates is the maintenance of Public health and safety and cannot watch while contaminated fish is served to the public.
He said many drains empty their content into the main waterway that flows from part of Ho-Ahoe and Parks and Gardens, and emptying into the River Tordzei.
He sounded a warning to chop bar operators and fishmongers to know the sources of catfish before they buy them and process them for public consumption.
The trio are assisting the Police in their investigations as samples of the catch are being sent for forensic analysis.
Meanwhile, Ghana News Agency’s information is that the exercise to harvest mudfish from contaminated stagnant storm drains is an ongoing one with some men were seen harvesting fish along the Donorkordzi segment of the drain last week, an indication, the contaminated fish might have entered the Ho Central market or some pots of soup in some chop bars.