The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) on Monday opened the sea to artisanal fishers to resume fishing.

The season was closed for a month as part of measures by government to recover fisheries stocks that keep dwindling.

The 2022 fishing closed season marks the third time the ministry is implementing a key fisheries management measure.

Sector Minister, Mavis Hawa Koomson, performed the symbolic opening of the sea with a key at Otuam in the Central Region.

Before the symbolic opening of the season for artisanal fishers to go fishing after a month of closed season, the minister, Mavis Hawa Koomson indicated that the journey towards the implementation of the 2022 closed season was not as smooth as they had expected as a result of the challenges in the supply of premix fuel.

Fisheries Ministry opens sea to artisanal fishers after a month of closed season
The Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mavis Hawa Koomson

She stated that however, due to the resolve and foresight of stakeholders, especially, the leadership and members of artisanal and inshore fishers, stakeholders including the traditional authorities supported by the ministry to observe the 2022 closed season.

The preparation of the 2022 closed season started with the first national stakeholders meeting in March 2022 during which the stakeholders reviewed the 2021 closed season report and agreed on the duration for the 2022 closed season period. They then announced the date for the 2022 Closed Season.  

Addressing the fishers at Ekumfi Otuam landing beach, the minister entreated all fishers to play their part in the recovery of the fisheries resources by supporting the ministry in the implementation of the fisheries resource recovery plan such as the closed season.

Fisheries Ministry opens sea to artisanal fishers after a month of closed season
The Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mavis Hawa Koomson

“It must be made clear to everyone that the Closed Season is backed by law in Ghana and it has come to stay as a stock recovery strategy. We would continue to review the strategies as we review the reports and biological studies,” she emphasized.

Mavis Hawa Koomson also served notice that no fisheries infractions will go unpunished under her watch. She intimated that since the protection of the resources of the sea is a shared responsibility, she would want the fisherfolk to support her in the ministry’s effort to bring back sanity in the ocean space.

Fisheries Ministry opens sea to artisanal fishers after a month of closed season

She warned: “Let’s stay away from illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing practices such as the use of undersized mesh, DDTY, light fishing etc. Let me assure you that the Fisheries Enforcement Unit would be empowered to increase patrols, arrest offenders and prosecute them.”

Fisheries Ministry opens sea to artisanal fishers after a month of closed season

Madam Hawa Koomson also revealed that the attention of the Ministry has been drawn to the fact that recently some fishers have demarcated parts of the sea as their own and deployed fishing nets and fish aggregating devices in the demarcated area for their exclusive use.

She says such a practice flies in the face of the law and she will everything to deal with such persons.

“I wish to inform the general public and all fishermen that such activity contravenes the Fisheries Act and Regulations. I will deploy personnel of the FEU to arrest and prosecute them,” she served notice.

Fisheries Ministry opens sea to artisanal fishers after a month of closed season

Chairman of the Ghana National Canoe Fisherman Council, Nana Joojo Solomon, stated that the association will partner the ministry and the fisheries commission to arrest fishers that flout the fisheries regulations.

Lauding the ministry’s efforts, USAID Mission Director, Kimberly Rosen, stated that the closed season coupled with addressing the illegal, unregulated and unreported issues in the industrial trawl and artisanal sub-sectors, is a significant measure towards the recovery of Ghana’s fast depleting fish stock while safeguarding the livelihood of over 3 million Ghanaians.

Fisheries Ministry opens sea to artisanal fishers after a month of closed season
USAID Mission Director, Kimberly Rosen

The 2022 closed season marks the third time the ministry is implementing a key fisheries management measure. With the opening of the sea, the fishers can now resume their fishing activities.