The Fisheries Commission, Ghana has organised a two-day workshop for members of the National Working Group of a regional task force to strengthen enforcement of fisheries regulations in fishing communities.
Ghana’s National Working Group is part of the West African Task Force of the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC).
The workshop in Tema was aimed at creating awareness of inter-agency efforts at combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) and strengthening inter-agency cooperation through the National Working Group.
The FCWC is a regional fishery body comprising six West African countries, namely Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria. It was established to ensure the conservation and optimal utilisation of the living marine resources in the Gulf of Guinea and encourage sustainable development of fisheries.
Violation of fisheries laws
Opening the workshop, the Head of Marine, Fisheries Management Division of the Fisheries Commission, Mrs Matilda Quist, noted that Ghana and other countries in the West-Central Gulf area had recently become the target of IUU fishing activity from both foreign and local fishing fleets, decimating local fish stocks and rendering local communities vulnerable and poor.
She said the seasonal bumper fish catches had become history, and that was attributable to the rampant violation of fisheries laws and regulations, including light fishing, use of unauthorised nets and net meshes, trans-shipment, dumping of fish at sea and use of explosives and poisons.
“IUU fishing has multiple and cumulatively harmful economic and social consequences, depriving legitimate fisherfolk their livelihoods even as it also deprives fisheries managers of information critical to accurate stock assessments,” she said.
Mrs Quist disclosed that IUU fishing was costly to the environment and economies of countries.
She, therefore, charged participants who were drawn from agencies such as the Ghana Immigration Service, Food and Drugs Authority, Ghana Maritime Authority, Ghana Air force, Port Health, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority and the Customs Division to partner the Fisheries Enforcement Unit to reduce illegal fishing.
The Head of Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Division of the Fisheries Commission, Mr Godfrey Baidoo-Tsibu, who facilitated the workshop, stressed the need for information sharing among the various agencies to enable them to resolve the complex problem of IUU fishing in an effective manner.