The European Union (EU) Ambassador in Ghana, H.E. William Hanna, has called for stronger collaborative efforts among stakeholders in the fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.
Mr Hanna, who was speaking at the launch of an EU-funded fisheries governance project in Accra, yesterday, noted that fisheries resources in West Africa, particularly in countries in the Central West Gulf of Guinea were under increasing pressure from population density, food needs, poverty and irrational methods of exploitation, including IUU fishing.
He, therefore, urged the International Community to ratify and implement the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's Port State Measures Agreement which will allow coastal nations to deny port entry and services to foreign vessels suspected of illegal fishing.
The EU Ambassador noted that even though Ghana had ratified the Agreement, more work was required in the area of implementation and urged government to ensure that no foreign trawlers flying Ghanaian flags flouted the law. "They must not be allowed to fish illegally in foreign waters; fish without licenses; engage in transshipment, light fishing, use of undersized mesh, dumping of fish at sea and use of explosives and poison. All these are illegal activities," he added.
Ghana, he said, should, therefore, improve communications among stakeholders on the Port State Measures Agreement and to ensure effective monitoring of its implementation efforts to yield the intended results.
In her remarks, the Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Ms Afoley Quaye, pledged the Ministry's preparedness to empower fishers to play a leading role in the enforcement of the Fisheries Regulation.
Ms Quaye also urged all agencies and institutions implementing various fisheries projects to ensure co-ordination in order to avoid the duplication of efforts and to leverage resources for the development of the fisheries industry.
In a statement, Ambassador Elkanah Odembo, Country Director, CARE International, said the project would support the Government of Ghana to meet national development goals, its regional and international fisheries management obligations and the Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG14)which aims to "Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development."
Ambassador Odembo commended the Government of Ghana for establishing and resourcing a separate Ministry in charge of fisheries.
On his part, Mr Maclean Asamani Oyeh, World Bank Consultant, said the World Bank looked forward to the rebuilding of the fish stock and a sustainable fisheries industry in Ghana.
The Paramount Chief of Lower Axim and Chairman for the occasion, Nana Kwesi Agyemang IX, condemned IUU, urged fishermen to engage in practices that would sustain their livelihood rather than those which threatened their survival and commended the project implementers for the initiative.
The Far Ban Bo, a Fante expression, means 'Protecting fisheries livelihoods'. It is a four-year EU-funded fisheries governance project being implemented by a consortium three--CARE (the lead), Friends of the Nation (FoN) and OXFAM-- in collaboration with key fishery stakeholders, smallholder fishery associations and Fishery Commission.
The project is designed to address the challenges of overfishing and unsustainable fishing, including IUU fishing, low compliance and weak capacity for law enforcement within the sector.
The Far Ban Bo project, which targets coastal fishing communities in 30 districts in the Western, CentraL, and Greater Accra Regions, will focus on tenure rights security for fish landing sites and pilot mechanism for grievance and dispute resolution among the fisher groups.
The overall objective of the project is to contribute to sustainable fisheries management and to improve food security and nutrition, and the livelihood of smallholder fishers and other users of fisheries resources-- with emphasis on improved fisheries governance.