A Ghana-based vessel with Chinese ownership is back fishing, without having paid a record USD 1 million (EUR 900,000) fine levied by the Ghanaian government for illegal fishing in that country’s waters.
The Lu Rong Yuan Yu 956 (AF 756) was arrested for illegal fishing in Ghana’s waters in June 2019. Locally registered company Gyinam Fisheries Limited, which has failed to pay the penalty since it was issued, is a subsidiary of Shandong Province, China-based Rongcheng Ocean Fishery Co. Ltd..
While the case regarding the non-payment of the fine is set to go back to court in coming months, under local law, the vessel is not entitled to be re-issued with a license to fish, either in Ghana or elsewhere. According to the Environmental Justice Foundation, Ghana’s fisheries laws require the national fisheries commission to withhold licensing of vessels that have engaged in illegal fishing.
Yet the vessel can be observed on AIS maps from December to February operating in the waters of Ghana and the Ivory Coast, according to the EJF.
Ghana’s 2002 Fisheries Act provides that the Council of the Fisheries Commission shall not recommend the renewal of a fishing licence unless it is satisfied that “there has not been a failure to satisfy a judgment or any other determination for a contravention of this Act.” And the country’s 2015 Fisheries Amendment Regulations provide that the Fisheries Commission shall not grant an authorization for a vessel to fish outside of Ghanaian waters where “the commission has reason to believe that the fishing vessel has engaged in IUU fishing.”
Ghanaian fisheries officials Godfrey Baidoo-Tsibu and Michael Arthur-Dadzie did not provide answers to questions from SeafoodSource regarding whether the fine had been paid or whether the government had come to an agreement with Gyinam Fisheries Limited allowing it to fish without paying the fine.
Photo courtesy of the Environmental Justice Foundation