Fisheries Ministry lauded for strategy to enforce proper fishing practices

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Friends of the Nation, an environmental non-governmental organisation and an implementing partner of the Improving Fisheries Governance in Ghana and the wider sub-region project (IFG – project), has described as commendable the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development’s approach of using the supply of premix fuel to fishers as a bargaining chip in ensuring that there is a high level of compliance to illegal, unreported and unregulated IUU practices.

“It is our considered view that this strategy will go a long way in stamping out the practices of IUUs which are gradually posing a grave existential threat to aquatic life,” a Programmes Manager at Friends of the Nation, Kyei Yamoah, observed at a press conference on IUU.

According to Mr. Yamoah, global fisheries face an existential threat in the decades ahead from surging worldwide demand, declining ocean health, and continued illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

“IUU fishing also harms legitimate fishing activities and livelihoods, jeopardizes food and economic security, benefits transnational crime, distorts markets, contributes to human trafficking, and undermines ongoing efforts to implement sustainable fisheries policies. It can also heighten tensions within and between countries and encourage piracy”.

He revealed that global losses due to IUU fishing alone are estimated between US$10 billion and US$23.5 billion per year with West African waters deemed to have the highest levels of IUU in the world representing up to 37 percent of the region’s catch stressing that this is estimated at US $ 100,000 per day, in addition to damage of artisanal equipment in the marine waters of West Africa.

“While much of the IUU fishing in the region is believed to be conducted by foreign vessels fishing in the EEZ of coastal West African States, in Ghana, a large part of the IUU fishing problem can be attributed to the Ghanaian fishing fleet.

The Programmes Manager is worried that despite government’s efforts to improve the governance of the sector, the sector is beset with several problems including extensive light fishing and brazen acts of disobedience evidenced by numerous cases on non-compliance and weak enforcement.

“Ghana stands at a crossroad as the Country’s small-scale fisheries are in steep decline. Landings have plummeted from 298,249 metric tonnes in 1996 to 179,721 metric tonnes in 2016, despite an increase in the number of canoes from 8,626 in 1996 to a 11583 in 2016. Landings of small pelagic species which is the mainstay of the artisanal fishery have declined by about 80% between 1996 and 2016. Regrettably, whereas historically Ghana’s fisheries were able to sustain the nutritional needs of the population, the country today imports more than half of the fish it consumes”.

According to him the implementing partners have also observed with concern the violent backlash and attacks on the FEU in their line of duty by some fisherfolks and condemn the attacks.

“We want to appeal to all actors in the fisheries sector particularly the artisanal fisheries actors to desist from attacking law enforcers who are just doing their work in accordance with the law. We also urge all fishers to engage in responsible fishing and to voluntarily comply with all fisheries laws and regulations governing the industry to ensure sanity and sustainability of the industry. We again urge the Commission to ensure equity in enforcement of the fisheries laws across all sectors of the fishing industry to build trust across the board”.

Attack and apology

Fishers at Abuesi in Shama have once again rendered an unqualified apologize to the fisheries Enforcement Unit and the Fisheries Ministry over a recent standoff in the community.

Three weeks ago, a team from the Fisheries Enforcement Unit went to the Abuesi Community to enforce and ensure IUU compliance.

The team has for some time now stepped up their enforcement against IUU practices along the country’s coast.

However, the team came under attack from the community members resulting in the vandalization of their patrol car and hospitalization of one of their commanders.

The community led by the Chief Fisherman Nana Koduah has since been apologising for the gaffe as the community has come under heavy sanction.

He indicated that Abuesi has been reeling under dire hardship since the incident and assured the ministry that the unfortunate act will not happy again.

By Eric Yaw Adjei|Connect FM|3news.com|Ghana