The Chief Director of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development says there has been a decline in fish production in Ghana even though fishing capacity has increased.
Mr. Michael Arthur-Dadzie was speaking at the closing session of a ten-day training of one hundred fisheries compliance observers as part of activities under West African Regional Fisheries Project (WARF-P) to reduce illegal fishing and sustain fisheries management in Ghana.
Mr. Arthur-Dadzie who was speaking on behalf of the sector minister said, “Total fish production has hovered around 400,000MT for many years and there are strong indications, however, of decline in fish production of important fish stock such as Sardinella, even though fishing capacity and effort have been increasing.
He observed that the decline had been attributed to weak enforcement of Fisheries laws and regulations over the years which had encouraged the use of deleterious or unapproved fishing gear and methods prohibited by legislation.
According to him, these unregulated and unreported fishing, if not checked, would cause further decline in fish stocks, fish composition and profitability, adding that, “That was why the Ministry of Fisheries has committed to implementing the WARF-P to deal with such irregularities in the fisheries industry.”
Mr. Arthur-Dadzie said this would strengthen governance and management of the fisheries sector, control access, reduce over fishing, and restore profitability to the fishing industry.
He said Ghana was mandated by its Coastal and Flag State responsibilities to ensure the deployment of trained observers on its industrial fishing fleets for scientific and compliance purposes as part of its international obligation in order to avoid sanctions.
“Section 100 of the fisheries Act 2002 (Act 625) provides for the deployment of observers, and it is in consonance with the act that we had trained these observers to add to those already in the system,” he said.
According to him, the objective of the observer programme was to monitor the operations of the fishing vessels at sea, collect information on by-catch, discards and any other necessary information.
He cautioned the observers to be diligent and professional about their work since any compromise on their part might render the trip report irrelevant.
“You must also bear in mind the legal implications of your work since the evidence you gather on fisheries infractions will eventually be tendered in the law court in the event that that infraction has to be prosecuted and you may also be required to serve as a witness thereto,” he cautioned.
He said the Government of Ghana was committed to fighting “the dreadful canker, Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU) to ensure that fishing livelihoods are protected and secured against vulnerabilities that may lend fishing communities to be socially marginalized with adverse implications not only in the area of food security, but also national security.”
Dr. Angela Lamptey, a Lecturer at the Department of Fisheries Sciences, University of Ghana, and one of the facilitators of the Training, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) said, “Ghanaian fishermen need a lot of attitudinal change. They know the laws, they know the by-laws, they know the legal things and illegal things to do, but they still engage in them. Do the right thing, let’s fish sustainably so that we will still have a lot of fish stock to sustain present and future generations.”
The training which was sponsored by the World Bank and organized by the Centre for Maritime Law and Security (CEMLAWS Africa), drew participants from relevant academic backgrounds.
They were taking through courses such as security at sea, survival at sea, communication, fire-fighting and navigation.