Mr Yaw Osafo-Marfo, Senior Minister at the Presidency, has urged the leadership of the various fisheries practitioners to do more in getting their members to be compliant of laws regulating the fisheries industry.
The leadership of the various groups of the fisheries practitioners are the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen’s Council, the Ghana Industrial Trawlers Association, the Ghana Inshore Fisheries Association, the Ghana Tuna Association, the National Fish Processors and Traders Association.
“To the Chief fishermen, the question I do ask frequently is; what has become of the traditional authority that you exercised over the fishermen in the areas of ensuring rational fishing practices; including the observance of the traditional systems of the close season”, Mr Osafo-Marfo queried at the closing of the three day conference on Fisheries and Coastal Management held in Accra.
He mentioned the laws and regulations in the country that were designed to control and manage the fish stocks in a sustainable manner as; the Fisheries (amendment) regulations, 2015 (LI. 2217) agreement on port state measures to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; as well as the Fisheries Management Plan of Ghana: a national policy for the management of the marine fisheries sector (2015-2019).
There are also; the Guidelines for the registration and licensing of Fishing Vessels in Ghana, the Fisheries Regulations 2010; and the Fisheries Act 2020 – Act 625 and others.
Addressing a conference on Fisheries and Coastal Environment, held in Accra, on the general theme: “The Changing Marine Fisheries and Coasts: Challenges and Opportunity for Changing Mind”, Mr Osafo-Marfo said regretfully, the fisheries laws were frown at by many of the fishermen and fisheries practitioners in the country, either ignorantly or deliberately.
“However, when these same fishermen travel to the neighbouring countries, they do not practice light fishing, the close-seasons are observed while all manner of illegal fishing methods are abandoned.
“Yet, when in their own country, measures are put forward to attempt to address the problems in the fisheries, they are strongly resisted. This must stop”, he stated emphatically.
He therefore declared “RED ALERT,” in all forms of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing methods in Ghana and tasked the relevant law enforcement agencies to carry out the order to the letter.
He also called on the media to partner government and other stakeholders to fight illegal fishing, as in the case of illegal mining, to ensure sustainable development of the fishing industry.
The Senior Minister announced that plans were far advanced for government to establish three development authorities, including the coastal development authority, as promised in the NPP’s Manifesto.
He said the coastal development authority was meant to assist the four coastal Regions, namely: Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions to boost the economy of these coastal regions while creating employment in a view to improve the quality of life in the coastal areas.
He urged the academia, to do more in contributing innovative ways to develop the marine and inland water fisheries sector.
Professor Joseph Ghartey, Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), said the conference reaffirmed the commitment of the UCC to the sustainability of fisheries and coastal resources of Ghana, which brings very significant contributions to food security, employment and poverty alleviation.
“By virtue of our strategic location, UCC is proud to be organizing this conference, but most importantly, I am pleased it comes at a critical time. A time when all key stakeholders, government, fisheries practitioners, scientists and the private sector are deeply concerned about the decline in fisheries output and the worsening coastal environment”.
Professor Denis Worlanyo Aheto, Director of the Centre for Coastal Management (CCM) of the UCC said the conference was designed to strengthen policy linkage, and to enable researchers, journalists and think-tanks to connect their voices to sustainable fisheries and coastal development agenda of the county.
He said the conference therefore discussed sub themes on fisheries and coastal governance policy, fisheries economics and value chains, ocean and coastal environment, marine culture and green businesses for the coastal environment, IUU fishing practices, and livelihood and poverty reduction in coastal areas.
The UCC, the USAID-Sustainable Fisheries and Management Project (SFMP) and other partners organised the conference in collaboration with the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development to help sanitise the fishing industry.