The Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mavis Hawa Koomson, has threatened imprisonment of fishers who engage in illegal and unregulated fishing practices to protect gains made from the closed season.
She has also disclosed that Ghana is engaging with its neighbouring countries to harmonize the closed fishing season for mutual benefits.
The Fisheries Minister was speaking at a short ceremony to hand over some relief items to fish processors and traders in the Western Region.
Mavis Hawa Koomson, who was happy about the gains made from the closed season, however, bemoaned the activities of some recalcitrant fishers who continue to use illegal and unregulated means to fish.
She says she will start the process to ensure such persons are imprisoned when caught.
She also vowed to stop the help given to fishers if such activities persist.
“Currently, when they are arrested and taken to court, they will only be fined and released.
“We are going to have a discussion and make sure it is also going to be part of our laws that when you are arrested, you have to be in prison at least for three months or six months maximum and this may serve as a deterrent for them.
“I have also told them that if they continue doing [illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing], then we cannot also come out to support them,” she said.
Madam Hawa Koomson also disclosed that Ghana is engaging its neighbouring countries to harmonize the closed season for mutual gains.
“We had engagements with our neighbouring countries, that is Cote d’Ivoire, Togo and Benin for discussions a week or two ago.
“I was in Cote d’Ivoire and they are all coming on board. Cote d’Ivoire would have even observed the closed season this year but they couldn’t do their stakeholders consultations well and so we went there to tell them what we are doing.
“So, they have promised coming on board next year. The same applies to Benin and Togo. So, next year, 2023 we are all going to observe the closed season at the same time,” she said.
The Acting President of the National Canoe Council, Joojo Solomon, who was present, challenged the fish mongers and traders to not patronize those who do not use the right means to fish.
“For the first time in more than 15 years, we are seeing huge volumes of fish and this is all due to the positive impact of the closed season.
“Stop buying from those who use illegal and unregulated means to fish. Those fishes are not good. And please report these people when you see them. If you see something, say something,” he stated.
The relief items were made up of 200 deep freezers, 1,700 aluminium basins and 500 bundles of wire mesh.
By Shirley Ewurama Smith|Connect FM|3news.com|Ghana