Group urges Fisheries Minister to change closed season date

The Scientific and Technical Working Group (STWG), made up of some key stakeholders in the fisheries industry, has called on the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Elizabeth Naa Afoley Quaye, to consider a change in the date of this year’s closed season. Ms Afoley Quaye last month announced May 15 to June 15 as the closed season for inshore trawlers and canoes and August-September for industrial trawlers. But the Group says the proposed dates will not achieve the objective for which they have been set. “Spawning potential and recruitment at this time is low as fish remain offshore, in deeper waters, ocean temperature are still too high for spawning to fully start, and the peak spawning will not be started,” the Group stated in a letter to the Minister. “Based on the analysis, the SWTG concluded that the May 15 to June 15 closed season will have a very minimal impact in terms of protecting spawning fish. “In addition, fishermen will use this time to prepare their fishing gear in order to improve fishing effectiveness in July and August when spawning is at its peak.” The Group, made up of National Fisheries Association of Ghana (NAFAG), Ghana Industrial Trawlers Association (GITA) and Ghana National Canoe Fisheries Council (GNCFC), among others, is proposing the month of July as the closed season for inshore trawlers and canoes and August for industrial trawlers. “This is the second best option with the highest potential of protecting spawning inshore pelagics to achieve the objective of a closed season which is to contribute to the rebuilding of Ghana’s fisheries stocks.” The letter was sent to the Minister after a stakeholders meeting. The Group clarified that its proposal last year was met with opposition as a result of the brevity of notice and conflicts with cultural festivals “and the general perception that this is the critical ‘bumper harvest’ that is important to overall incomes of canoe fishers”.

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