Approval for fishing vessel operation permits have been put on hold, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development has indicated.
This is due to an agreement with the World Bank which requires the country to reduce the number of vessels on its waters.
This was disclosed when the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Ms Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, and her Deputy, Mr Francis Kingsley Ato Cudjoe, appeared before the Parliamentary Select Committee of Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs to defend the Ministry’s budget estimates for 2018.
According to the ministry, the number of fishing vessels on the country’s seas are too many and their operations are also contributing to the reduction of fish stock in the Ghana’s waters.
It said most of the vessels were also flouting the country’s fishing laws and efforts were being made to cancel their licences in order to reduce them.
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The ministry pointed out when the ban is lifted, approval would only be given to Ghanaians who want to own vessels and operate in the country.
The committee, for its part, urged the ministry to put in more effort to ensure that the country’s fishery stock is not depleted by the activities of vessels that are mostly owned by foreigners.
It also urged the ministry to ensure that the country’s fishing laws are complied with.
The committee also commended the ministry for successfully implementing the closed session programme for industrial trawlers last year.
It said the programme would promote the conservation of the country’s fish stock and allow fingerlings to grow.
The committee, however, advised the ministry to identify alternative livelihood schemes within the year to enable the fishermen to support their livelihood during the closed session.
It also recommended that a closed session be implemented for artisanal fishing this year.
The committee was informed that the Fisheries Commission was not properly constituted and efforts were being made to ensure that it is properly established within the public service.
The committee was pleased to find out that the Public Services Commission and the Ministry of Finance had approved a scheme of work for the Fisheries Commission, which would be operationalised soon.
It was also realised that the commission lacked high level technical staff and an assessment by the Public Services Commission indicated that the ministry needed to engage about 1,962 technical staff to be able to operate optimally.
The ministry subsequently made a request for 260 staff for 2018 but approval was given for the appointment of only 26.
The committee commended the ministry for its efforts to ensure the proper establishment of the Commission but urged it to ensure that the transition of the commission is complete and the 26 staff are properly employed.