The Fisheries and Aquaculture minister-designate, Elizabeth Naa Afoley Quaye, has promised to protect the country’s territorial waters from illegal fishing including light fishing.
According to her, the ministry would resource the Ghana Navy with patrol boats to “intensify patrols in our water to check light fishing.”
Illegal fishing cost Ghana over 100 million Euros in 2012. The use of light to attract fish and other illegal means of fishing including the use of dynamites are adversely affecting the fishing industry in Ghana.
The phenomenon is now posing a massive threat to livelihoods of 10% of Ghana’s 26 million population who depend on the industry.
The practice has drastically reduced the amount of fish caught by local fishermen and has thus contributed to the rise in the importation of fish into the country.
The European Union also threatened the country to find ways of stopping the phenomenon or risk being banned from exporting any fish.
Answering a question on the phenomenon Thursday during her vetting before the Appointments Committee of Parliament, Mrs. Afoley Quaye said light fishing has depleted the country’s fish stock.
“It [light fishing] is done with an aggregating device that aggregates the fishes and after the fishes have been aggregated some obnoxious materials…some chemicals, dynamites are poured on the fish in order to capture all the fishes at once,” she told the Committee adding, “this is poisonous to the consumer.”
She said light fishing has been outlawed by the country’s laws, warning that the security agencies would deal ruthlessly with anyone who would be caught engaging in it.
She said the ministry under her supervision would empower the Navy, acquiring patrol boats for them to ensure that patrolling the country’s waters is intensified.
She added that the fisheries management plan is being drafted to devolve some of the powers of the Fisheries Commission into the hands of the fisher folks.
“What will happen is that the fisher folks will become their own watch dogs and they’ll have the right to arrest colleague fishermen who are engaged in this practice [light fishing]” she noted.