Fishing activities

Illegal fishing activities – Stakeholders want government action


• EU approves fishing practices regulated by appropriate classes of vessels

Some stakeholders in the fisheries sub-sector have called on the government to take immediate action to end illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities in Ghana’s maritime sector.

The owners of canoes and fishing gear, the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council (GNCFC) and a fisheries scientist, Professor Francis Kofi Ewusie Nunoo, are not happy that Ghana has received a yellow card from the European Union, where much of Ghana’s tuna and other fish stocks land.

They said swift action was needed to avoid full sanctions from the European Union.

On June 2 this year, the EU issued a yellow card to Ghana due to the country’s non-cooperation in the fight against IUU fishing.

The ‘yellow card’ is an official warning issued by the EU to trading partners who fail to address the gaps in their fisheries governance, in particular with regard to IUU fishing.

Activities such as Saiko, the use of small meshes, light fishing, fishing with chemicals and explosives, fishing outside fishing limits, landing juvenile fish, among others, are all classified as fishing. illegal and undeclared.

These activities, experts believe, deplete fish stocks, destroy marine habitats, distort competition, among other negative effects.

According to the European Commission Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, Ghana has been identified as a non-cooperative country in the fight against IUU fishing.

The commission’s letter indicated that while Ghana played an important role in the governance of fisheries in West Africa, the country’s commitment to zero tolerance for IUU fishing had been weak.

Not surprised

An executive member of the Canoe and Fishing Gear Owners Association of Ghana, Nana Kweigyah, who spoke on behalf of the association, said they were saddened by the yellow card warning, saying that ‘he indicated that Ghana was not managing its fishery resources appropriately.

“However, we are not surprised by the yellow card warning sent to Ghana because the signs were clear on the walls that little was being done to stop IUU fishing in Ghana,” he added.

On how Ghana could buy back its image, he suggested that the government stop transshipment activities, commonly known as “Saiko”, in Ghana.

Saiko, he said, was the most destructive form of IUU fishing, and that it was worrying that it was escalating despite the many national and international laws governing sea fishing.

“We have broken our own laws which govern our fisheries and the many international laws and regulations,” said Nana Kweigyah.

He said members of the association, who were investors and canoe owners, had a role to play as they decided what gear fishermen used for their trade.

“We are determined to help the government fight against IUU fishing,” he said.

In line with this resolution, he said the association, together with the Coastal Management Center, plans to educate artisanal fishermen on the best fishing methods and the appropriate gear they should use.

Fishermen’s Council

GNCFC National Executive Member Nana Joojo Solomon said: “This is a clear sign that we need to sit down and do the right thing. We have been advocating against IUU fishing for some time now, and now the reality has appeared on us. “

He called on fisheries collaborators including fishermen, regulators and enforcement agencies to team up to end IUU fishing in Ghana.

“It is illegal to engage in illegal fishing. Our laws and international laws such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) have made it clear that we cannot use monofilament netting for fishing, we cannot use light to aggregate fish during fishing, the laws do not approve of them, ”said Nana Solomon.

He said Ghana has very good laws, “and laws must have teeth. Laws must be enforced.”

The scientist’s point of view

Professor Nunoo, for his part, called on the government to strictly monitor and prosecute those who break the rules on illegal and unregulated fishing.

He said failure to ensure strict compliance with the 2014 National Action Plan against IUU fishing, apart from destroying fish stocks, would make the industry unsustainable.

He told the Daily Graphic that Ghana, as a responsible state, should comply with international UNCLOS rules to allow it to trade with other fellow countries.

“All the sub-sectors of industry such as handicrafts, semi-industry and industry have all become guilty of illegal practices, hence the need for the Anti-Fisheries Unit to control all illegalities, “said Professor Nunoo.

He stressed that although the yellow card was a warning, it was important to work diligently to enforce the laws in order to avoid a red card, which would have dire consequences for the country’s fish exports, especially to the EU market, which remained the largest export route. of fishery products.