Give fishers early notice before closing the sea – Kofi Agbogah
Fisheries expert and advocate, Kofi Agbogah, has stressed the need for fishers to be given early notice before the seas are closed for fishing.
For him, when fishers are given early notice, it will help them to prepare themselves for the exercise, thus lessening the social and economic impact that may come with the exercise.
Mr Agbogah, who is the Executive Director of Hen Mpoano, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) with focus on fisheries resources, environmental and coastal management, gave the advice at the day two of the ongoing 14th session of the Conference of the Ministers of the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea in Accra on Thursday, January 12, 2023.
The 14th session of the Conference of the Ministers of the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea, which is being done in-person and online, is on the theme: “Supporting effective fisheries management for a sustainable blue economy.”
The conference is being attended by the fisheries ministers of the six FCWC member states or their representatives, as well as representatives of development partners of FCWC, including ECOWAS, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), African Union, and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The session’s participants would deliberate on the theme, review the past year’s results, and agree on a work plan and budget for the 2023/2024 period to be submitted to the Ministers to adopt.
Mr Agbogah said even though the fishing closed season is a good fisheries management practice, key stakeholders such as the fishers must be involved in the exercise in order for them to understand the rationale behind it in order to increase compliance.
For him, the situation “gets chaotic" when fishers are only given a short time to the start of the closed season, pointing out that fishers should be given given six months’ notice before the seas are closed for fishing.
Mr Agbogah’s comment comes as the countries in the FCWC region are considering a joint fishing closed season.
Many fisheries experts in the FCWC countries have called on the member states to jointly observe the closed season so as to help protect the shared stocks in the region.
For instance, the Secretary-General of the FCWC, Mr Seraphin Dedi, in reacting to a report on a pilot closed season in the FCWC region, has encouraged all member states to collaborate to observe the exercise to help recover the region’s declining fish stocks.
He said since the region shared many stocks in common, it was only appropriate that they all contribute to the management measures to protect the stocks.
Currently, Ghana is the only country in the FCWC region that has been observing the fishing closed season.
However, plans are far advanced for Ghana and its neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire and Togo to observe the closed season together.