Last year, the government intensified enforcement action against saiko, resulting in a high-profile arrest. This led to a notable decline in saiko activities at Elmina, a major landing site for saiko fish in Ghana’s Central Region. Since then, however, saiko activities have slowly increased again.
The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), which has been monitoring the situation, has called for an urgent government crackdown. Monitoring by EJF showed that saiko landings recommenced at Elmina just a few months after the arrest, with up to 15 saiko canoes landing fish every day. The fish were unloaded in broad daylight, showing the operators had little fear of the law.
The clear statement by Quaye, speaking at the national Conference on Fisheries and Coastal Environment, is very welcome, EJF says. At the conference, the Ghana Industrial Trawlers Association made clear that they were also in full agreement that saiko should be stopped and pledged to work with the government on the issue.
“What is needed is the immediate, effective and transparent enforcement of the law,” said EJF’s Executive Director Steve Trent. “Strong penalties must be applied to create a deterrent and prove that this government means to end saiko fishing for good. Saiko is precipitating the collapse of Ghana’s staple fish stock and with it, poverty and hunger for its people. This is an ecological and humanitarian crisis.”
According to Ghana’s fisheries laws, saiko is punishable by a fine of between $100,000 and $2 million, with the minimum fine increasing to $1 million where catches involve juvenile fish or the use of prohibited fishing gear.