Mr. Kyei Kwadwo Yamoah, Programmes Manager of Friends of The Nation, an NGO, has advised fishers to lend the required support to his outfit to revive the fishing industry in most fishing communities in Ghana.
He said as the new fishing law comes into force next year, it behooves the NGO to equip stakeholders in the fishing industry to take advantage of a training programme dubbed, ‘Evidence Gathering which seeks to empower fishers to gather evidence on illegal fishing acts on the sea’.
Mr. Yamoah was addressing a Visibility Durbar for fishers,fisher folks, fish mongers and chief fishermen at Dixcove in the Ahanta West Municipality of Western Region.
Dubbed, “Far Ban Bo” (Protecting Fisheries Livelihoods), the four-year project is being implemented in Ghana by a consortium of NGOs consisting of CARE (the lead), Friends Of The Nation (FoN) and Oxfam for the period January 2017 to December 2020 with funding from the European Union (EU).
The purpose of the durbar was to increase and maintain visibility on “Far Ban Bo” Project and its activities and re-sensitize the community on the Village Saving and Loan Association (VSLA).
As part of the programme, the NGO would train an Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported (IUU) fishing practices committee and build their capacity to handle special mobile phones, binoculars and other apparatus to track illegal fishing vessels on the sea.
The training would also involve incentive monitoring for the local committee and co-management which would afford the local illegal fishing committee and fishing enforcement bodies to work hand in hand.
Mr. Yamoah said the training module would empower the IUU fishing committee to gather enough evidence for the police to effect arrest of illegal fishing.
He bemoaned that a lot of generators for light fishing have been seized at Sekondi and appealed to the Police Command to expose illegal fishing acts through a news conference to serve as deterrent to others adding that the GHC300 penalty on light fishing was not punitive enough as such the new law would prescribe stiffer punishment to abate the nuisance in the fishing industry.
The Programmes Manager said the NGO has formed the VSLA to enhance investment spending to afford women the opportunity to invest the monies they save in productive livelihood ventures such as vegetable farming among others to ensure sustainability based on local resource mobility.
The Head of the Fisheries Enforcement Unit at the Fisheries Commission in Takoradi, Sergeant Wonder Kpedator advised the fishing communities to form volunteer groups to track illegal fishing activities.
He said illegal fishing was horrible in Sekondi with a number of illegal fishing equipment seized and other fishers arraigned before court.
Sergeant Kpedator entreated fishers to comply with the fishing laws to help increase the fish stock in the sea.
He charged the local Police force to respond quickly to the arrest of illegal fishers for prosecution.
The Chief Fisherman for Dixcove, Nana Kwaku Dazie appealed to the NGO and the Fisheries Commission to enact a law which binds all Chief Fishermen to be culpable of illegal fishing acts in their areas of jurisdiction.
The Zonal Officer of the Fisheries Commission in Ahanta-West, Mr. Timothy Amiah decried that mono-filament nets were still being used for fishing expeditions.
He said more than 1,000 generators, nets for illegal fishing, have been seized at the Western Naval command at Sekondi.
Mr. Yamoah admitted that the project was already yielding dividends in areas like James Town in the Greater Accra Region, the Keta Municipality and Kpando District in the Volta Region, Kormantse in the Central Region and Ahanta-West being the first to benefit in the Western Region.