Fishers call for grassroots engagement to prepare for 2019 closed season

BY: Graphic.com.gh
Fishers call for grassroots engagement to prepare for 2019 closed season
Fishers call for grassroots engagement to prepare for 2019 closed season

A fisherman from Elmina, Justice Raymond Prah, has called on the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, the Fisheries Commission and civil society organizations to step up their engagement with fisher folk at landing beaches across the country, in order to ensure a successful closed season in 2019.

This, he believes, would address the lapses in communication that resulted in the Ministry deciding to postpone this year’s closed season at the last minute.

Mr Prah made these known in an interview with the press at a fisheries program by the Far Dwuma Nkodo project, a three-year sustainable fisheries project funded by the European Union, and implemented by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) and Hen Mpoano.

The monthly program seeks to raise awareness amongst the general public of the importance of Ghana’s fisheries sector for national food security and income, and the challenges facing fishing communities today in a context of declining fish stocks and increasing competition in the sector.

Participants, including Papa Yaw Atobrah, Regional Director of the Fisheries Commission in the Central Region, Kofi Agbogah, Director of Hen Mpoano, discussed what marred the 2018 closed season and shared ideas on how to plan for a successful closed season next year.

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Mr Prah disclosed that chief fishermen do not always feed information back to their communities after consultations, making it very difficult for fishermen and fishmongers to keep abreast of the issues.

He added that fishers were not against the 2018 closed season as it is in their interest for fish stocks to recover and would even embrace a three-month closure.

However, greater sensitization on the issue needs to take place so that fishers understand the reason for the closed season and are able to prepare adequately.

They also want government to take a bold stance on all forms of illegal fishing.

Director of Hen Mpoano, Kofi Agbogah, disclosed that consultations and other communication activities on the closed season started back in 2015 and called for the involvement of all stakeholders in educating and consulting with fishermen so that they understand the state of the country’s fisheries and embrace the 2019 closed season.

Mr Agbogah called for a meeting with all stakeholders to decide on how to make the 2019 closed season a success, adding that the CSOs are ready to work with the Fisheries Commission in executing its mandate.

For his part, the Central Regional Director of the Fisheries Commission, Papa Yaw Atobrah, indicated that fisheries are a renewable natural resource that need to be managed in a sustainable manner to benefit future generations. He said the ultimate aim is to manage the resources to secure food security and livelihoods, provide nutritional requirements and help in the economic growth of Ghana.

He explained that the tuna fisheries have an annual moratorium on fishing under regional ICCAT rules, while industrial trawlers have been observing closed seasons for the past three years.

Mr Atobrah said it is the first time that artisanal fishers will be observing a closed season, hence the duration of one month. This could then be extended as fishers reap the benefits. He added that technically a one-month closed season is not enough if we want to see meaningful results.