Ghana may soon lose its fishing stock if nothing is done to overturn issues confronting the country’s fishing sector.
Ghana, which consumes over 950,000 metric tons of fish annually, currently imports over 60 percent of its fish. Ghana in 2016 imported $135 million worth of fish because of the reduction in the country’s fish stock.
According to the Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, the huge imports could be blamed on the steady depletion of Ghana’s fish stock. “We have a deficit of over 60% of production of fish in Ghana. So we import over 600,000 metric tonnes of fish and we produce less than 400,000. At the moment we have our stocks depleting steadily and we really have to do something quickly about it else we lose our stocks entirely,” she told Bernard Avle on the Citi Breakfast Show on Thursday.
Afoley Quaye, however added that her outfit is doing everything possible to reverse the trend.
“What the Ministry of Fisheries is doing at the moment is that, we are trying as much as we can to stop illegal fishing because this is the main contributor to the depletion of our stocks,” she noted.
The Minister highlighted three different scenarios she claimed were contributing massively to the depleting fishing stock including transshipment, light fishing and harvesting wrong fishes.
With the transshipment method, Afoley Quaye said vessel owners usually sell their catch at sea before returning to the ports.
“This method of fishing is when the vessels go to sea, they make their catch and they sell their fish at sea. They do not come down to the port to report their catch so the nation can also make revenue from the business that the fishers are doing.”
“Another form is light fishing. This light fishing is done mostly by the artisanal fishers and the semi-industrial fishers. They fix a light equipment into the fish with the aim of aggregating the fish towards the light. All manner of fishes are drawn to the light so they scoop everything including those ones that are supposed to be left in the sea to grow including those with eggs,” the Minister explained.
She noted that the light fishing method has been outlawed in Ghana, adding that the Fisheries Ministry is doing everything possible to ensure that the law is complied with.
“Another form of illegal fishing is harvesting wrong sizes of fish to the ports. So we have formed a task-force which is inspecting the vessels and catches at the harbour.”
She noted that the task-force’s role among other things is to arrest captains of vessels who could not communicate with Ghanaians properly as well as unhealthy conditions of their crew.
“So what we are doing is to be sure that those who are captaining the vessels with Ghanaian flags; those registered in Ghana, the captain should be able to speak our language and be able to communicate with the crew. When it is found out after the inspection that the crew members are not sleeping in good conditions as well as the vessel not being in good condition that is also seen as illegal fishing,” she added.
Ghana Police chase two Chinese for importing unwholesome fish
The Minister made the remark on the back of the Ghana Police Service’s manhunt for two Chinese nationals who are said to have imported unwholesome tilapia into the country.
According to the Police, they have a bench warrant to arrest the two; Zhang Ming alias Gary and Chu Yong Shuai “for the offence of importation of Tilapia Fish in commercial quantity into the Republic of Ghana without permit contrary to section 130 (1) and (3) of Fisheries Act 2002 (Act 625) respectively.”