A Fisheries Enforcement Unit (FEU), authorised to combat illegal fishing activities in Ghana, has been inaugurated in Tema in the Greater Accra Region.
The FEU is composed of personnel from the Ghana Navy, the Ghana Air Force, the Fisheries Commission, the Attorney-General’s Department, the Marine Police of the Ghana Police Service and the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI).
The unit is mandated to monitor, control and provide surveillance of all fishing operations within Ghana’s fishery waters.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony and orientation workshop for personnel of the FEU, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mr Nayon Bilijo, charged them to arrest and prosecute people caught flouting the regulations governing the activities of fishing, as prescribed in Section 94 of the Fisheries Act 2002.
“The mandate, therefore, of the FEU involves more than enforcement. It encompasses not only traditional enforcement activities but also the development and establishment of both data collection systems, the enactment of legislative instruments and implementation of the management plan through participatory techniques and strategies,” he said.
He said Ghana and countries in the West-Central Gulf area had recently become the target of illegal fishing activities from both foreign and local fishing vessels and groups, destroying local fish stocks and rendering local communities vulnerable and poor.
“Available estimates indicate that illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing accounts for 30 per cent of the total global fish catch, causing economic losses of between $10 and $23 billion annually,” Mr Bilijo said.
He said although 10 per cent of Ghanaians depended directly or indirectly on the fisheries sector and that the sector contributed about 4.5 per cent to Gross Domestic Product, it had not been sustainably managed to benefit all stakeholders presently.
“Of late, seasonal bumper fish catches have become history and this could be attributed to rampant violation of fisheries laws and regulations, such as pair trawling, light fishing, use of unauthorised nets and net meshes, trans-shipment and dumping at sea,” Mr Bilijo said.
He, therefore, urged personnel of the FEU to bring on board their specialised skills in synergy to achieve the common purpose of reducing illegal fishing activities that threaten the sustainable management of the country’s fish and aquatic resources.