Ghana is facing imminent fish stock depletion unless something drastic is done to save the industry, scientist, Prof. Kobbina Yankson has cautioned.
According to the Chairman for Scientific and Technical Working Group for Ghana Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP), the declining catches of small pelagic fish – herrings, mackerel, sardines – are a clear indication that “Ghana’s marine fishery is at the verge of collapse.”
“Our research shows that if by 2020 nothing is done, the stock [of small pelagic fish] will collapse…,” Prof. Yankson said Wednesday, April 10, on Newsnite on Joy FM.
His comments come in the wake of yet another controversial announcement by the Fisheries Ministry that, Ghana’s waters will be closed to all forms of fishing activities from May 15 to June 15. Fisherfolk had preferred the closed season to rather take effect in August- a period when the fishes usually reproduce.
A similar announcement made in July 2018 ahead of implementation date in August of same year, was withdrawn after fisherfolk argued the notification period was too short.
Read also: Fisheries Ministry lifts close season ban
Despite being made aware of the planned implementation of the ban this year, the people who catch fish for a living, are on another collision course with the Ministry as they say the May/June ban will inure to poverty.
Although they have officially communicated their grievance to the Ministry, sector Minister, Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, says the May/June ban will not be changed.
“It is the Fisheries Ministry that regulates the sector in this country and we cannot relinquish our mandate to any group of individuals. It is our duty and we are doing what we are supposed to do,” she told journalists at a news conference.
The argument of the fisherfolks has received a further boost after Prof. Kobbina Yankson, who has been engaging the Ministry since 2016 for protection of fish stock stated, nothing will be achieved if government goes ahead to institute the closed season in May.
“May/June is not the time …so if you close the season for that time, you are not going to get any productions…it’s as simple as that,” he told News Anchor, Emefa Apawu.
In July 2018, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the SFMP expressed concern that the depletion of fish stocks in Ghana’s marine waters, would put food security and goals for economic growth and poverty reduction in fishing communities at risk.
The group revealed at a meeting with journalists that declining fish catches, increasing reliance on imports to meet demand, a growing fish-trade gap, declining incomes, increasing poverty and declining nutritional well-being were disturbing outcomes for the future of Ghana and fishing communities.