Madam Elizabeth Naa Afoley Quaye, the Minister-designate for Fisheries and Aquaculture, has disclosed that the country has huge fish production deficit with over 600,000 metric tonnes annually. She said currently the country produced only 440,000 metric tonnes of fish annually instead of one million metric tonnes needed by fish consumers thus falling short by over 50 per cent.
In order to close the gap, she said, the Ministry had developed a Fisheries Management Plan that provided guidance on how the country could meet consumer demand including observing closed fishing seasons and avoiding illegal fishing practices.
Madam Afoley Quaye made this known on Thursday when she appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament for vetting.
She said the Ministry would strengthen inland and marine fishing efforts adding that it had started enforcing closed fishing seasons for industrial fisher folks which was observed in January this year, while the semi-industrial fisher folks had started observing it from February to March 31.
Madam Quaye, the Member of Parliament for Krowor in the Greater Accra Region, said the Ministry would bring the artisanal fishers on board to observe the closed fishing seasons in order to replenish the fish stock.
She said when given the nod, the Ministry would set up an inter-sectoral committee comprising representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Water Resources Commission and the Fisheries Commission under a single umbrella to speed up the process of acquiring aquaculture permits for potential investors.
She said the Ministry intended to increase aquaculture fish production from the current 50,000 metric tonnes to 100,000 metric tonnes within the shortest possible time.
Addressing how the Ministry would ensure that fisher folks got premix fuel regularly, she said the distribution of the product was fraught with challenges including diversion and adulteration.
“Therefore the Ministry would enforce the procurement and distribution of the product and place tracking system on the fuel tankers to avert diversion, and also recruit coordinators who will make sure the products get to their final destinations,’’ she said.
The nominee said the Government would construct 14 landing beaches across the country including Manford, Krowor, Keta and Kpeshie, as well as construct a fishing harbour at James Town in the Greater Accra Region as captured in the New Patriotic Party Manifesto.
She said illegal fishing had depleted the fish stock therefore the Ministry would resource the Navy patrol team to embark on frequent patrols on the sea and enforce the fishing collaborative plan so that fisher folks would be given powers to serve as watchdog over their colleagues and arrest those involved in illegal fishing.
With regard to the menace of tidal waves destroying fishing inputs in some coastal communities, she said fisher folks would be educated on the timing of the tidal waves so that they would understand the period of the waves and take precaution.
Madam Ouaye gave the assurance that the Ministry would deal with any fishing infractions to ensure sanity in the fishing industry adding that the Anomabo Fisheries College would be supported to take off in order to train personnel in fishing extension services.