Fishermen in the Central Region are calling on the government to ensure that all forms of illegal fishing methods are stopped to give meaning to this year’s closed season.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development in collaboration with the Fisheries Commission announced the closure of the season for artisanal fishing from Wednesday, May 15, 2019, to Saturday, June 15, 2019.
The decision is aimed at reducing the over-exploitation of fish stocks in Ghana’s marine waters.
Besides, it forms part of measures to regenerate Ghana’s fast-depleting fish stocks.
According to the fisherfolks, the observance of the closed season this year will mean nothing to the fishing industry if dynamite fishing, transhipment, light fishing and other illegal fishing methods are still in force.
The fishermen disclosed this when the EU Council African working party interacted with fishermen along the coast.
In August 2018, the government postponed the closed fishing season for all fishers because there were many disagreements on the fronts of the fishermen.
The government thus deferred the closed season to 2019 where it was hoped that the issues that arose could be resolved.
Fishermen in the Central Region want the government to do more than it is currently doing to fight illegal and unregulated fishing activities.
“The trawling boats are really worrying us. They are still there. These trawlers drag our nets and destroy them with the least complaint. If we eliminate this and light fishing, there wouldn’t even be any need for government to close the season,” Kofi Akono, a fisherman remarked.
Another fisherman, Kweku Aggrey lamented how the activities of the trawlers and the use of dynamite and light fishing are affecting their business.
Central Regional Chairman of the Ghana National Canoe and fishermen Council, Nana Obrenu Daabom III called on the government to deal with the issues affecting the fish stocks before the closed season is announced.
A delegation from the European Union Council African working party met the fishermen along the coast to understand the challenges bedevilling the sector. Head of the political section of the EU delegation in Ghana, Paola Salvia was upbeat that if the fisheries resources were protected the communities along the coast would be developed.
“Fisheries is a very important issue in Europe and we know that it is also a very sensitive issue in Ghana as well. So, we came to meet the local communities to understand the problems associated with it; Plastic nets and other challenges that affect their business. So far, the feedback we’ve got is very positive. We will continue to support Ghana to deal with the issues of fishing,” he assured.
Kyei Yamoah of the Friends of the Nation says stakeholder consultations are being done and over the years the concerns of fishermen and their challenges have been raised for the attention of policymakers.
He was confident that the consultations will yield positive results for the implementation of the closed season this year.
Far Ban Bo, the sustainable fisheries management projects and the Environmental Justice Foundation, have intensified education and sensitisation drive in the coastal areas to ensure that the fisheries stock are protected.