Stakeholders in the fisheries value chain have called for an amendment to the Fisheries Act 625, 2002, to ensure sustainable development in the country's fisheries sub-sector.
They said the amendment should promote transparency, participation and accountability by all stakeholders in the management of the fisheries industry.
The stakeholders, who made the call in separate interviews with the Daily Graphic last Tuesday in Accra, indicated that worldwide, the fisheries industry had gone through several reforms to ensure its sustainability and, therefore, Ghana needed to take keen steps to catch up.
Most important action
The Programmes Manager of Friends of the Nation (FoN), Mr Kyei Kwadwo Yamoah, observed that a review of the fisheries law was one of the most important actions to grow the fortunes of the industry.
“The review of the fisheries law is one of the most crucial actions to stimulate growth in the industry. Without a good regulation, management of the industry will be problematic.
“For instance, there is a duplication of functions with regard to the work of the Board of the Fisheries Commission and that of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD),” he said.
According to him, the new law needs to help replenish the dwindling fishing stock with a specific restriction as to the quantum of fish to be harvested per year.
Also, he stated that the review should consider prescribing the number of boats to be allowed to fish in order to sanitise the industry.
“The review should focus on the reduction in fishing days and reduce harmful incentives and subsidies. It should also include the restructuring of the Fisheries Commission to help address the weakness of the commission,” he added.
Fisheries Act Section 116
In particular, Mr Yamoah called for a review of Section 116 of the Fisheries Act which bordered on compound offence to address the lack of clarity in the out-of-court settlement process that had become a thorny issue in the industry.
However, he said cooperation between MoFAD and the commission should be encouraged by the new law.
“The revised law should give opportunity for journalists to be informed and to promote transparent fisheries governance so that stakeholders can know what is happening in the fisheries sector at all times.
“It should also provide chief fishermen the legal instrument to give them authority to enforce the country's fisheries laws,” he added.
FoN, in collaboration with CARE and Oxfam in Ghana, is the implementer of the Far Ban Bo, a fisheries governance project funded by the European Union (EU).
Need for reforms
An expert in the fisheries industry, Mr Mark Conduah, in a telephone interview with the paper, underscored the need for reforms in the fisheries sector to ensure sustainable development and food security.
According to him, the fisheries sector should be seen as an extractive industry whose renewable natural resources can be exhausted and, therefore, needs consistent reforms to encourage growth.
“We need transparency to improve the management of the country's fisheries sector and the provision of the much-needed accountability in a sector that has recorded low levels for close to a decade,” he added.