Thirteen Chinese and 23 Ghanaians on board two fishing vessels have been arrested near Apam in the Central Region by the Western Naval Command for engaging in pair trawling without licence.

The vessels, which have been escorted to the Sekondi Naval Base, are Maache One and Maache Two owned by Nebula International Limited, a company registered at Tema.

They were also found fishing below the 3D-metre depth, eight nautical miles from the shore, which is prohibited by law.

At the time of their arrest, Maache One had six Chinese and 12 Ghanaians on board and was being captained by Yue Xi Qulin, while Maache Two, captained by Zhan Houl Han Dalla, had seven Chinese and 11 Ghanaians on board.

Also on board the Maache One were 500 cartons of fish weighing 12, 500 kilogrammes, while Maache Two had 700 cartons of fish weighing 17,500 kilogrammes.

Briefing the press in Sekondi, the Flag Officer Commanding the Western Naval Command, Commodore Frank Daley, said the vessels were arrested on Saturday at about 11 am.

He disclosed that the navy spotted six fishing vessels engaging in pair trawling, but the naval ship, GNS DZATA, was able to arrest the two, while the four others disengaged and sped off.

The Western Regional Director of Fisheries, Mr Alexander Addo, said owners of the vessels had been verbally informed and had admitted the infraction.

He explained that the owners’ admission of the infraction meant they would have to resort to an out-of-court settlement.

According to Mr Addo, a committee, comprising representatives of the Ministry of Fisheries, the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Navy and the Attorney General’s Department, would settle the case and formally charge the owner and apply the minimum sanction, if the vessels were first offenders, while the sanction would be increased, if they were to be caught again.

He said the vessels were registered in Ghana and that the owners were all Ghanaians.

Mr Addo stressed that as far as the Ministry was concerned, pair trawling had been banned since 2005.

He noted that the activities of pair trawlers depleted the fish stock very fast, creating difficulties not only for the Ministry, but for all Ghanaians.

He emphasised that curbing the practice of pair trawling was not the work of the Ghana Navy alone, but also all stakeholders, adding that “with its limited resources the Navy can only do what it can along the coastal line of 550 kilometres, stretching from Aflao to Jaway Wharf.”

Mr Addo said committees had been set up at the coastal towns to assist in the management of fishery resources, saying “we have been doing a lot of education but the law enforcement agencies should also help”.

Source: Daily Graphic