Stakeholders in the maritime and fishing industry have given their consent to the ratification of two international protocols meant to regulate the operations of fishing vessels and working conditions of their crew members.
The protocols are the Cape Town Agreement (CTA) of 2012, designed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), and the C188 Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
While the CTA seeks to set out a mandatory safety requirement for fishing vessels, the ILO Convention on fishing intends to regulate working conditions of fishers in the industry.
“Although in merchant shipping there are a lot of regulations in the country on the safety and welfare of vessels and the people who work in them, the situation is not the same in the fishing industry, hence the need for the ratification of the two conventions,” the acting Director in charge of Maritime Services at the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), Nana Kwabena Boakye-Boampong, told the Daily Graphic in an interview in Accra last Friday.
Nana Boakye-Boampong stated that the protocols would subsequently be tabled before the Cabinet for approval, ratification and onward submission to their respective international bodies.
When ratified, the protocols will be incorporated into Ghana’s laws to empower the GMA with the required legal backing to sanitise Ghana’s fishing industry and make it a more desirable profession.
He said the GMA was hopeful that the processes would be completed by the end of this year for implementation to start in 2022.
“The GMA expects that Ghana will have all the primary and subsidiary legislation on the protocols by the end of 2021, to begin implementation in order to bring sanity into the fishing industry,” he said.
He added that the incorporation of the two protocols into local laws would help improve the regulation of fishing vessels and working conditions of crew members at sea.
Earlier last Thursday, a day’s stakeholders’ forum had been organised by the GMA to deliberate on the ratification of the two protocols which will improve conditions of fishers.
Stakeholders from the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, the Ministry of Transport, the Office of the Attorney-General, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Fisheries Commission, the Ghana Navy, the Marine Police, the
National Union of Seamen, Ports and Allied Workers, the Ghana Tuner Association, the National Association of Fishermen, Ghana, the Regional Maritime University (RMU), the University of Ghana (UG) and the University of Cape Coast (UCC) participated in the forum.
They took turns to explain why the country needed to ratify the protocols as a matter of urgency.
Opening the forum, the Director General of the GMA, Mr Thomas Kofi Alonsi, noted that the GMA often received complaints concerning the welfare of fishers, which included poor conditions of employment and cases of death on board vessels.
With those challenges, he said it was obvious that a lot needed to be done to sanitise the fishing industry and make the fishing profession more desirable.
“The GMA, therefore, requires some legal backing that will empower us to protect the welfare of fishers. The ratification of both the CTA and the ILO Work in Fishing Convention is very necessary at this time.
“I, therefore, urge you all to actively participate in today’s discussions, which will help thrash out any issues of concern and make this ratification possible. It is through this that the GMA will be empowered to regulate and improve the operations of the fishing industry,” he added.