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Fisheries expert calls for urgent action to halt 'saiko'

BY: Zadok Kwame Gyesi
File photo
File photo

Illegal fish transshipment at sea, popularly called “saiko” exceeded normal trawl landings in Ghana by 150 per cent in 2017.

Similarly, saiko also accounted for 57 per cent of the landings of artisanal fishers in the same year.

This was revealed by the Director of the Environment and Natural Resource Research Initiative (ENRRI – EfD Ghana), Professor Wisdom Akpalu in a presentation titled: “Capture Fisheries Management in Ghana: Challenges and Prospects” in Accra on Tuesday, August 18, 2020.

He said saiko is accelerating the depletion of small pelagic stocks, which are the main target of artisanal fishers in the country.

He explained that because of the many illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices such as the saiko, light fishing, overfishing and overcapacity, catch per unit area has reduced and continue to reduce.

Prof. Akpalu, who is also the Dean of the School of Research and Graduate Studies of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), said many industrial trawlers and canoes use samall-sized illegal nets, hence catching undersized fishes.

Participants at the seminar

According to him, about 90 per cent of artisanal fishers use illegal fishing nets, a situation he explained, is greatly contributing to the depletion of fish stocks in Ghana’s waters.

He said Ghana imports about 60 per cent of her fish needs, a situation he described could worsen in years to come if proactive measures are not taken to regulate the sector well.

He said currently Ghana has over 70 fishing trawlers and that each of these trawlers land more juvenile fishes than expected.

“We have evidence of fish stocks collapsing in the world,” Prof. Akpalu said, pointing out that “We are not in a very good place. We have to think carefully about this.”

He noted that without sacrifices, the fishing sector cannot be well regulated, hence urging all stakeholders to make some sacrifices in order to save the country’s fishing industry from a possible collapse.

The seminar, which was organised under the auspices of Environment for Development (EFD), brought together key players in the Ghanaian fishing industry.

As one of the 15 centres of the EfD initiative, ENRRI contributes to the sustainable management of Ghana’s natural resources through capacity development, policy-relevant research and policy engagement. The EfD initiative is funded by the Swedish International Development Initiative (Sida).

A former Acting Chief Director at the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Prof. Francis K.E. Nunoo, called for drastic measures to sanitise the country’s fishing industry and protect the livelihoods of the many people, particularly coastal communities who depend on marine resources.

He called for "...a big revolution in the fisheries industry in Ghana” to save the sector.