Effective September 2022, all fishers who refuse to use approved fishing nets will be sanctioned.
The Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mr Moses Anim, who gave the warning urged all fishers to without excuse comply with the directive to avoid a clash with the law.
He said the Ministry after several consultations with relevant stakeholders had agreed to enforce compliance of regulations on gears, particularly fishing nets as part of governance measures to salvage the country’s fisheries sector.
Mr Anim was speaking at a media training workshop organised for media practitioners in the member countries of the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC in Accra on Wednesday, June 22, 2022.
The FCWC was established in 2007 to promote and facilitate cooperation in fisheries management between the FCWC’s member countries—Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Liberia, Benin, and Cote d'Ivoire.
The workshop was organised by Hen Mpoano, a non-governmental organisation in the fisheries sector with support from the FCWC.
The training, which was attended by journalists and experts from the FCWC countries was intended to equip the participants with relevant information on fisheries governance in the West African sub-region— enhanced transparency, law enforcement, collaborative management and capacity building of key stakeholders in Ghana and the West African sub region.
The Deputy Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister said illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing required firm and stringent measures without fear or favour in dealing with it in order to achieve impactful results.
For him, the government would not allow the few selfish individuals in the fisheries sector to destroy the country’s fisheries resources with destructive fishing gears to the detriment of the masses who depended on the sector for their livelihoods.
The Head of Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) Unit of the Fisheries Commission (FC), Papayaw Atobra, said the country had the primary responsibility to protect its fisheries resources and therefore needed to adopt all stringent and reasonable measures to clamp down on IUU fishing.
“We have a responsibility to manage our fisheries resources for the benefit of our people and those yet unborn,” he said, adding that the country had a responsibility to provide livelihood for “our people and ensure food security for our nation.”
Mr Atobra was of the view that the country needed to cooperate with the international community to fight IUU, pointing out that ocean governance was not the preserve of one nation.
He further encouraged strong institutional coordination and right policies to reduce coastal poverty which he noted often times push many players in the fisheries sector to engage in IUU fishing in the country.
He was of the view that the country’s inability to sustain monitoring, control and surveillance of its fishing sector, particularly on IUU had led to the country receiving a Yellow Card from the European Union (EU) on a second time.
The Yellow Card is an official warning issued by the EU to trading partners falling short of tackling IUU fishing.
The FC’s MCS boss said for the country to fight IUU fishing, there was the need to improve fisheries governance, strengthen MCS, fight IUU at all levels, strengthen international cooperation and ratify relevant international fisheries conventions.
Drivers of IUU
The FCWC’s Regional MCS expert, Mr Godfrey Baidoo-Tsibu, said the three main drivers of IUU fishing in the FCWC region were economic incentives that make IUU fishing a low-risk, high profit activity; weak governance that fails to enact or live up to fisheries management regulations and barriers to enforcement of fishing regulations caused by lack of political will, lack of enforcement capacity and sometimes corruption.
For him, IUU fishing “remains of the greatest threats to marine ecosystems due to it potent ability to undermine national and regional efforts to manage fisheries sustainably as well as endeavours to conserve marine biodiversity.”
He has, therefore, called for an urgent need for collaborative efforts by the West African sub-region to fight IUU fishing together to achieve the needed impact since the region had shared stocks.
The Executive Director of Hen Mpoano, Mr Kofi Agbogah, commended Ghanaian journalists for their role in helping to fight IUU in the country.
He said the Ghanaian media over the years had greatly contributed in creating awareness about the negative consequences of IUU fishing.
For him, the three-day training was organised by the NGO and its partners to apprise the participants of the common fisheries issues, challenges and prospects within the West African sub-region and enhance their reporting skills on fisheries in their respective countries.