Fisheries Minister, Elizabeth Afoley Quaye has been criticised by fishery experts for publicly endorsing ‘Saiko’ activities in the country.
‘Saiko’ is a term used in Ghana to refer to the transfer, or “transshipment” of fish at sea by industrial trawlers to local canoes.
The practice is illegal under Ghanaian law and attracts a fine of between $100,000 to $2 million. The minimum fine increases to $1 million where catches involve juvenile fish or the use of prohibited fishing gears.
The Minister during her speech at a function in Apam last year had denied rumours that the government had banned the activity and further encouraged fishermen to engage in the practice.
“There is a practice in this country called Saiko, it is not the intention of the NPP to spoil the ongoing business, there are rumours that the fisheries ministry has banned the practice but it is untrue.”
Mrs Afoley Quaye noted that although the fishery sector is facing numerous challenges, even with the Saiko, the government is liaising with the Ghana Industrious Trawlers Association (GITA) to resolve the issues associated with it.
“What we are saying is that the Chinese take the bigger fishes to their country and leave us with fingerlings and that is what we are working on changing. But we have not said you should stop Saiko, we are saying do it and do it well,” she indicated.
Reacting to this comment, Director of Hεn Mpoano, Kofi Agbogah said the Minister goofed as her statement could send wrong signals to people in the fishing industry.
“That was a big slip, she shouldn’t have said that. She knows very well that Saiko fishing is illegal, and when something is illegal whether you do it well or not, it is still not acceptable.
“It is as like telling an armed robber to perform his robbery well.”
Mr Agbogah further indicated that Section 132 of the 1992 constitution clearly states that fish trawling is illegal therefore, Mrs Afoley Quaye’s statements have been outlawed by the supreme rules of the land.