Fisher forks in Elimina protest against close season

BY: Shirley Asiedu-Addo & Deborah Oluwamuyiwa
Some fisherfolks in a demonstration
Some fisherfolks in a demonstration

Fisherfolks in Elmina flared up in anger on Monday afternoon as officials of the Fisheries Commission at a forum organised by the Fisheries Commission sought to explain issues relating to the closed fishing season.

Clad mostly in black and red attire, hundreds of indigenes including fishermen fishmongers and even children chanted that they would not support the implementation of the closed season.

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The forum was organized by the Central and Western Fishmongers Improvement Association (CEWEFIA) a Non-Governmental Organization in collaboration with the Fisheries Commission (FC) and with support from the Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP) of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The forum is one of a series of fora being organized by CEWEFIA to help further educate the fisher folks on the closed season.

Some of the fishmongers said they had taken loans in anticipation for the bumper fishing season in August stating that though they were not against the closed season the timing was not suitable.


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They said their livelihoods would be threatened and families would be seriously affected by the closure.

They accused the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MOFAD) and its implementation agencies of failing to provide enough education in the fisher communities.

Background

The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Ms Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, last Friday announced that the ministry and the Fisheries Commission will, from Tuesday August 7 to Tuesday September 4, close the season for fishing to help reduce the excessive pressure and over-exploitation of fish stocks in Ghana’s marine waters.

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The move forms part of measures to regenerate Ghana's fast depleting fish stocks and will affect all fleets, including artisanal fishing (except tuna fleets).

According to scientific research, one fish can lay over 25,000 eggs during the spawning seasons.

This is the second closed season of the year. The first was implemented by the Fisheries Commission in January 2018 for only trawlers.

Concerns

Expressing her worries a distressed fishmonger Nana Ekua Ackon, said the timing for the implementation of the closed season would affect her means of livelihood negatively.

“I have taken a loan to trade and August is when we get a lot of fish and that is when I can get my money back, but if the closed season is implemented how can I repay the loan and take care of my children”, she queried.

A canoe owner, Kobina Badu, said the fisherfolks appreciated governments efforts to restore the depleting fisheries stocks but the timing, he said was not favourable.

He said the fisherfolks were not prepared for the closed season adding that education at the grassroot level was not sufficient therefore the government should hold on in the implementation.

Fisheries Commission

But the Mfantseman Zonal Director of the Fisheries Commission, Mr Kwame Damoah reiterated the ministry’s stance saying it would not go back on its decision as it was in the interest of all.

He said the decision was to help raise the standards of fisheries in the country and improve the depleting fisheries stocks adding that the country was spending a lot on the importation of fish when it could improve its fisheries sector.

Fisheries Advisor to the SFMP, Mr Kofi Agbogah, said the reactions were expected to any change.

Fisheries in crisis

He stated that the nations fisheries were in crisis and there was an urgent need to take drastic but essential decisions to help rebuild the stocks.

He said it is expected that if the closed season is implemented monthly for three consecutive years the reproductive potential of the fisheries stock would greatly improve adding that the decision by the ministry to close the season was in the best interest of fisher communities and called for their cooperation.

The Omanhen of the Edina Traditional Area, Nana Kwadwo Conduah in a statement appealed to government to reconsider the timing of the closed season and to embark on further education.