The ban on fishing for artisanal and canoe fishers in the country has been lifted. At a ceremony at Ekumfi Otuam in the Central Region, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mavis Hawa Koomson, pointed the famous huge wooden key, which she had used to "lock up" the sea at Tema Manhean, seaward and turned it to symbolise the lifting of the one-month ban.
Before that, a linguist from the community, Okyeame Metanwoho, had offered four bottles of Schnapps, each from the four coastal regions, to seek permission from the gods to re-enter the sea and ask for a bumper harvest as the fishing season began.
A joyous applause welcomed the lifting of the ban.
The ceremony was attended by fisher associations and groups, fishery agency officials and representatives from civil society organisations, academicians, traditional authorities and other players in the fishing industry.
The Ministry of Fisheries, in collaboration with the Fisheries Commission, implemented the closed fishing season for inshore and artisanal fleets from July 1 to July 31 as a crucial component of "sustainable fisheries management”.
The goal is to lessen the pressure on fish stock during the peak production period, so that the fish can lay eggs (spawn) to replenish populations that have been decimated by illegal fishing and other natural occurrences.
Fisher associations and other officials from the fisheries agency applauded the ministry for its audacious move to bring some sanity into onshore fishing activities.
The minister said the government was not oblivious of the challenges in the sector, for which reason it had adopted strategic and critical interventions aimed at recovering the fast depleting fishery stocks.
She said her outfit would use every legal means to ensure that people whose actions stalled the ministry's efforts were arrested to face the law.
The Mission Director for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Kimberly Rosen, said: "We commend you and your team for the bold decision to continue implementing the closed season and also commend your commitment to end illegal transhipment at sea and the subsequent ministerial directive on the use of appropriate fishing gear by the industrial trawler sector."
She said the US government was ready and determined to support efforts by the Ministry of Fisheries to boost the fishing industry.
The Chief Director of the Fisheries Commission, Fred Kwasi Antwi Boadu, urged fishermen to stop the use of illegal methods in fishing, since such practices reduced the fish population.
He said those illegal actions and climate change had led to a sharp decline in catch, which was harming and depleting fisheries resources which, he said, required conscious efforts to restore.