Minority Caucus in Parliament led by the Ranking Member-Food , Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs Select Committe, Hon. Eric Opoku, and a Member of Parliament (MP) for Asunafu South, has said 2nd May marks world Tuna Day.
Hon. Opoku indicated that the sector employs over 10, 000 people directly and indirectly and rakes in over US $ 350,000 million annually.
The Minority Caucus congratulated hardworking fish farmers for leaving no stone unturned to ensure the continuous supply of Tuna for food and economic development.
Hon. Opoku breifing the media said the initiative was instituted in December 2016, when the United General Assembly voted to officially observe this on the 2nd May in every year as the World Tuna Day.
“The move was informed by the need to put in place system to prevent Tuna Stock from extinction, ” he posited.
According to him, Ghana among other countries depend on tuna for nutrition and food security, employment, generate government revenue for economic development, and as recreation culture and livelihoods.
“It is the source of the basic proteins needs in Ghana and Abroad, ” Hon. Opoku stated.
He said noted that tuna has zero waste because fish oval is used for producing animal feed particularly for poultry and fish oil is used for aquaculture.
The Lawmaker said there are 2 major processing companies in Ghana namely pioneer Food Cannery and Cosmo Foods; among them are 37 registered vessels including 20 bait boats and 17 purse seine. Out of this number, 32 are currently active.
“The laws of Ghana allow foreigners to partner indigenous in the tuna business only on basis of 50% beneficial shareholding, ” he stated.
Hon. Opoku added that there are two types of tuna fishing in Ghana— Pole and Line, and purse seine. “The pole and Line use live anchovies as baits whilst the purse seine use nets”.
He indicated the pole and line fishing is becoming less profitable because the use of light in harvesting the live baits is banned by law.
Hon.Opoku noted that Ghana has no training program for this important sector—the Regional Maritime University has not trained Skippers for the sector for a long time leading to the dominance of foreign crew within the top echolon of the sector.
“The Skippers, Enegineers and first officers are generally non-Ghanaians and even the general composition are mostly not certificated as required by law due to the absence of programmed training regime” the Lawmaker disclosed.
He continued, “Fuel cost with the attendant taxes in Ghana are very high over US $200 more per ton than what vessels buy at the high seas, compelling over 90% of vessels to buy from foreign vessels at high seas. These vessels spend over US $120 million annually to buy fuel at high seas due to price differentials in Marine Gas oil”.
The lawmaker stressed that “tuna consumption in Ghana is very low and no known market is also created in neighboring countries particularly landlocked countries for trading in the product, making EU enjoy trade monopoly with Ghana”.
The MP said, this monopoly comes with unfriendly conditions and sometimes unbeatable sanctions.
“Ghana had the unpleasant situation of a trade ban from the EU in 2014, resulting in yellow card and major losses to industry and processors, ” he stated.
Hon. Opoku said “We need as a country to take Tuna seriously ad a leading non-traditional export, major source of employment and food security”.
“We need to support the sector by providing financial assistance and training for the Ghanaian to manage the sector and operate vessels.We join the world in celebrating bold Ghanaians in the sector; who are sacrificing everything to stand in the face of the storm, we celebrate the Ghanaian sealers who risk their lives and spend days at sea only to bring food into our tables, ” he emphasised.