President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has given an assurance that the full force of the state security apparatus is being marshalled to deal with threats of piracy in the country.
“The country’s coastlines are deemed to be very safe and we will not allow pirates or criminals to rob us of this hard-won reputation and create a sense of insecurity on our waters.
“I must assure you that the full force of the state security apparatus is being marshalled to curb the threats of piracy and maintain the reputation and safety of our coast,” he said.
The President was speaking at the inauguration of the refurbished Albert Bosomtwi-Sam Fishing Harbour in Sekondi yesterday.
The refurbished facility has a lay-by wharf, access roads to boats, fish market sheds, fuel dumps, an administration block, a fresh water storage tank and a state-of-the-art ice-making machine with the capacity to produce 50 per cent more than the previous capacity.
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The refurbishment which cost $20 million was jointly funded by the Ghana government and Japan.
The Sekondi Fishing Harbour was constructed in 1998 and named after the late Albert Bosomtwi-Sam who was a lawyer and Member of Parliament for Sekondi.
The President’s assurance comes against the backdrop that 14 tuna fishing companies have halted their operations in the country’s waters for fear of pirate attacks which have increased since March this year.
Three Korean sailors on board a Ghanaian-flagged fishing vessel, the Marine 711, were hijacked by pirates around Keta in the Volta Region on March 26, this year.
Within the last three months, Ghana has recorded five pirate attacks, compared to the 11 attacks recorded between 2013 and 2017.
For fear of similar attacks, and in solidarity with their counterparts, all the 14 companies that concentrate on tuna fishing in Ghana’s waters decided to halt their activities, pending “positive assurance from the Ghana Navy that the vessels and their crew will be safe at sea”.
Responding to the worrying situation, President Nana Akufo-Addo said the government would resolutely deal with the challenge and urged the 14 tuna fishing companies which had halted their operations because of the threat posed by pirates to resume.
“I urge them to resume. They have the full assurance of the government of their protection and safety as they go about their day-to-day activities. We will not leave them to fight this menace alone,” he added.
He said the contribution of the fishing industry remained very important and assured the fisher folk that plans were underway for the construction of many mini-fishing harbours and landing sites across the coastal belt of the country.
Jamestown Port Complex
To give more meaning to the government’s commitment to the fishing industry, the President said the government had signed an agreement with the Chinese government for the establishment of the Jamestown Fishing Port Complex at a cost of $50 million,
Under the Fisheries Sector Infrastructure Development Programme, he said, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture would commence the development of three landing sites in Winneba, Mumford and Axim and rehabilitate three public hatcheries at Vea, Sankana and Dormaa Ahenkro.
Additionally, he said, there would also be the rehabilitation of three fish health laboratories in Takoradi, Koforidua and Kumasi, the completion and inauguration of the Anomabo Fisheries College and the refurbishment of the Tema Boatyard to increase productivity of fisher folk.
“Let me say that even though we may have little or no control over climate fluctuations or changes, one thing we can have control over is our day-to-day activities.
“Our beautiful coastal wetlands are threatened by high volumes of plastic and metal waste that chokes breeding habitats for fish. This must not be allowed to continue.
“Together with all stakeholders, let us protect endangered species, achieve food security and protect our oceans for the future,” he said.
He told the managers of the fishing harbour to ensure proper maintenance, adding: “The deterioration of infrastructure, largely as a result of our inability, deliberate or otherwise, to maintain them continues to be a serious drain on scarce resources,” the President said.
For his part, the Western Regional Minister, Dr Kwaku Afriyie, said the refurbishment of the facility would not only sustain and enhance the fishing industry but also ensure a steady flow of income.
He said the Western Regional Coordinating Council would continue to offer the necessary support and co-operation for the successful completion of all ongoing projects in the region.