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Be transparent in dealing with 'saiko' culprits - EJF, Hen Mpoano

BY: Shirley Asiedu-Addo
Be transparent in dealing with 'saiko' culprits - EJF, Hen Mpoano
Be transparent in dealing with 'saiko' culprits - EJF, Hen Mpoano

The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) and Hen Mpoano has applauded the Fisheries Enforcement Unit for intercepting a ‘saiko’ canoe returning with blocks of frozen fish to the landing beach at Apam in the Central Region.

It has also called for transparency in dealing with the culprits.

They noted that the illegal practice of saiko, where industrial trawlers sell fish to local canoes at sea was driving the collapse of Ghana’s inshore fishery, on which millions of citizens rely for food security and income.

EJF and Hen Mpoano in a press release urged authorities to be fully transparent in the conduct of this case, and to ensure that the outcome, including the sanctions imposed and the amount paid by culprits were published on the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development website.

“Sanctions must be no less than the minimum specified in the legislation, regardless of whether the case is settled in or out of court, and should include the cancellation of licences where repeat offences are detected. Only then will they act as a true deterrent for potential offenders”, it read.

The EJF, an international non-governmental organisation working to protect the environment and defend human rights and Hen Mpoano a non-profit organization based in Ghana. Its vision is for inclusive and integrated management of Ghana’s coastal and marine ecosystems to generate long-term socio-economic and ecological benefits further recommend that the government issued a firm statement to the effect and that the ban on saiko was upheld during the ongoing reform of the Fisheries Act.


They noted that it was an opportunity for the government to demonstrate that engaging in illegal and destructive fishing practices in Ghana’s waters would not be tolerated.

Saiko

Saiko, which was originally an informal trading system where unwanted industrial bycatch would be exchanged at sea for fruit and livestock brought by canoes, is now a part of targeted fishing for the trawlers.

Not only is this illegal, it puts industrial fishing vessels in direct competition with small-scale fishers for catches of species such as sardinella that are a staple food for local communities. “Having effectively ‘stolen’ fish from canoe fishers, saiko operators sell these backs to the same fishing communities for profit,” the release stated.

Saiko is illegal under Ghanaian law, attracting a fine of between US$100,000 and US$2 million. The minimum fine increases to US$1 million where catches involve juvenile fish or the use of prohibited fishing gear.

Background

A vessel carrying 215 slabs and 15 sacks of illegally transshipped fish popularly called saiko’ was impounded by the Fishery Enforcement Unit at Apam in the Central region on Wednesday, August 8, 2018.

The officers and men from the Eastern and Western command of the Fishery Enforcement Unit undertook the operation at about 7am on Wednesday.