Fishermen in the coastal regions of the country have agreed to put a stop to light fishing as a measure of arresting the consistent decline in the stocks of fish within the coastal waters.
The decision was taken at a stakeholders’ meeting in Accra, yesterday, to discuss ways of addressing unregulated and illegal fishing practices.
Speaking at the meeting attended by all Members of Parliament along the coast, District Chief Executives and Municipal Chief Executives, fish mongers and chief fishermen, Mrs Elizabeth Naa Afoley Quaye, Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MOFAD), condemned the reckless exploitation and depletion of the fishery resources of Ghana which, she said, would lead to the total collapse of fisheries sector, with serious economic, social, nutritional and food security consequences that the country would not be able to accommodate.
Mrs Quaye noted that if unregulated and illegal fishing practices such as the indiscriminate use of explosives, chemicals, under-sized mesh nets, light, bamboo and other fish aggregating devices to fish were not stopped, the fisheries sector would collapse.
She disclosed that the Ministry in an effort to salvage the current fish stock depletion has, therefore, developed a Fisheries Management Plan to provide a strategic framework to ensure that the fishery resource was harvested sustainably.
She said the Fisheries Management Plan would, among others, seek to improve information on fisheries biology and stock assessment to support a stock rebuilding strategy; effectively enforce fisheries legislation; protect marine habitant to conserve biodiversity; reduce post-harvest losses and reduce the current levels of fishing efforts and fishing capacity.
Mrs Quaye announced that drones would be deployed on the sea to track the activities of fishermen and anyone caught involved in any form of malpractice would be arrested and prosecuted.
In his address, Hon. Ishmael Ashietey, Greater Accra Regional Minister, urged the fishermen to understand the actions of the Ministry, abide by the fisheries law and work to protect the sea. He also urged them to put an end to practices that pushed the fishes away, thereby, rendering fish harvest in the artisanal sector unattractive.
Hon. Titus Glover, Member of Parliament, Tema East, canvassed support for the Ministry in the fight against illegal fishing practices He advised the fishermen to desist from employing all forms of unregulated fishing activities to save the fish stock.
Hon. Dr Zanetor Agyeman Rawlings, Member of Parliament, Klottey Korle, stressed the need for everyone to be responsible in the disposal of waste, adding that sanitation malpractices also affected the fish stock in the sea.
She, therefore, called on all stakeholders to support the fishing industry by supporting efforts at fighting against illegal fishing activities.