Stakeholders in the marine industry have attended an evaluation workshop on Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the sea as part of measures to abate the nuisance in a bid to increase the fish stock.
The workshop formed part of the “5/Oak Foundation Project” of improving fisheries governance in Ghana and the wider sub-region.
It is being implemented by Hen Mpoano, Friends of the Nation (FoN) Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), Try-Magg Tracking and Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea between January 2021 and December 2023.
It was attended by officers at the Marine Police Unit, the Fisheries Commission (FC), officials from the FoN and then media.
Opening the workshop, Mr Yamoah Kyei, the Project Manager of FoN, reiterated the need for major stakeholders in the marine industry to continue to wage relentless war on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the country.
He observed that the fish stock was fast depleting due to anti-fishing behaviour of fishers in the sea, and added that many of the fishers disregarded the fisheries laws and advised them to refrain from the practice.
He reminded the Fisheries Enforcement Unit (FEU) to prosecute offenders in a bid to streamline issues bordering on fishing.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Joseph Antwi Ababio Tawiah, Director at Marine Police Training Unit, whose speech was read by Superintendent Charles Osei, Commanding Officer, Marine, Railway and Ports at Tema, told the workshop that prosecutorial action was being taken against IUU fishing, ranging from Inshore Vessels, Industrial Trawlers and Artisanal fishers.
He said a total of 43 cases were being tracked by the Fisheries Commission Monitoring Unit with 35 cases under investigations and eight cases before the law courts.
ACP Tawiah Ababio revealed that many of the observers hide the truth on the Inshore and Exclusive Zone (IEZ,) and failed to expose infractions at sea.
Mr Joseph Yeboah, the Western Regional Director of Fisheries, said with the help of the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), and observers, infractions should be exposed at the IEZ.
He said generators were not allowed to be immersed at the IEZ and charged the Fisheries Enforcement Unit (FEU) to get authentic evidence of any accoutrement through videos and pictures for arrest and prosecution.
Mr Yeboah suggested that the crew must have insurance cover considering the risk involved at the sea.
Mrs Sandra Akossah Tawiah, Head of Legal and Prosecutions at Tema and Legal Advisor to Marine Police, intimated that confiscated fishing gears must be destroyed but existing legislation does not allow that.
She stressed the need for Ghana’s fisheries legislation to be revised with consultation from the Marine Police Unit.
Also, the law on IUU must be clear in terms of prosecution and judgement.
Mrs Akossah Tawiah, who is also Superintendent in the Ghana Police Service, said it was important for investigators and other arresting bodies to be trained on fisheries laws and expeditious gathering of evidence.
She noted that many lawyers and judges should be trained in the fisheries laws and advised the Marine Police officers to have their facts ready before they arrest and prosecute in court.