Ghana will close its sea to fishing for two months effective February 1, 2017. The directive from the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MOFAD) and the Fisheries Commission (FC) will affect all industrial trawlers in the country.
The objectives of the implementation of this closed season, which are in keeping with Ghana’s Fisheries Management Plan (Marine Fisheries Sector, 2015-2019), are to help in reducing the excessive pressure and over exploitation of fish stocks.
Violating this directive shall attract fines ranging from US$ 500,000 to US$ 2 million as well as forfeiture of the catch, fishing gear or vessel to the state.
The Deputy Director for Monitoring, Control and Surveillance at the Fisheries Commission, Godfred Baidoo Tsibu told Starr Business’ Osei Owusu Amankwaah that the directive was reached after a scientific assessment revealed that Ghana’s fish stock is dwindling year on year.
“We are not allowing them to fish so that the stock they fish can be free to reproduce,” he said, adding that: “Two months is a long period and can do a lot for reproduction.”
The Control and Surveillance at the Fisheries Commission, Navy, Marine Police and the Fisheries Enforcement Unit will conduct regular patrols on Ghana’s waters to ensure adherence to the directive.
In recent times, fishermen have complained about declining fish catches after long hours on the sea. The famed August bumper catches are no more.
The development has been blamed on improper fishing methods and nets which do not spare fingerlings.
The introduction of bigger vessels that haul in a lot of fish at a time, instead of the smaller boats that were used in the past has also been cited. About 85 fishing trawlers are going to be affected by this directive.
The commission has engaged all trawler operators in the country over the directive.
Within the two months of the ban, fish imports and aqua-culture will be depended on heavily to satisfy the Ghanaian market.
The Ghana Fisheries Management Plan will implement the directive annually till 2019.
The commission will assess its impact and gradually rope in canoe operators.