…But Homowo Festival Won’t Be Affected
Government through the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development has banned fishing activities on the Sea have effective Tuesday, August 7 through to September 4, 2018, in a move replenishing the country’s depleting fish stock.
However, customary and traditional practices geared towards the celebration of key festivals like the (Homowo) which requires certain activities on the sea would not be affected.
Mrs Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development who declared the ban (Closed Season) on behave of government said, “Legal fishing restarts on September 5, 2018.”
“The government of his Excellency, the President Nana Addo Dankwa, has noted with concern the grievous and precarious situation and circumstances around the fisheries of Ghana and intends to implement policies and enforcement mechanisms that will restore the fisheries to its glory,” she asserted.
The President, according to the Minister “has directed that fishing for all fleets with exception of Tuna should be closed for one month beginning in August.
“Government has heard the arguments against the close season particularly fishers need to harvest fish in August to maximize income and make some profit on their investment during the month. Concerns of traditional celebration of Homowo and other festivals in Accra have been noted.”
According to her, the ban is to achieve a win-win situation to protect livelihood for fishers and the fishery and that legal fishing could restate in September 5.
Why are we in this situation?
Mrs Quaye who doubles as the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Krowor Constituency said despite the decreasing fish landings, the number of boats in the system continues to increase with over 13, 000 artisanal canoes in our waters currently while in the year 2000, there were about 6000 canoes.
“Also there are over 80 Ghanaians flagged trawlers and over 300 semi-industrial boats in the fishery. While fishing effort is very high, catch per unit effort (rate of catching fish) is extremely low. The sector is faced with a crisis of over-capacity and overfishing of all stocks,” she added.
She explained that, per Article 269 of the 1992 Constitution, fisheries Act (2002), Act 625 and Act 880 as Amended and the subsidiary regulations LI 1968 and LI 2217 enjoins the ministry of fisheries and Aquaculture Development and the fisheries Commission to protect the fisheries resources for the good of our people.
The minister stated that, one of the main reasons the country had found itself in this crisis is due to poor or weak governance sector which need an action to overcome it.
“As a country, we have not previously paid extra attention to the fisheries. It is important to note that at some point in our history, the country’s fisheries sector raked in revenues in excess of revenues the oil sector accrues today.
“Our fisheries governance mechanisms have not been able to match and stamp out the multi-faceted, illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing practices across the sector (trawlers, the semi industrial and artisanal fisheries.”
The Sea is drying
Some of the illegal fishing practices such as the use of high intensity light fish, blast of dynamite fishing, use of obnoxious chemicals to harvest fish, widespread use of small mesh size nets, pervasive use of monofilament nest in the marine sector, trawlers fishing in near shore zones reserved for artisanal fishers and Saiko fishing by trawlers, will be controlled.
The minster lamented that, the continuous belief that the sea never dry, no longer holds but as it stands “The Sea is drying.”
Section 84 (1) of Fisheries Act of 2002, Act 625 states that the Fisheries Commission may by notice in the Gazette declare closed seasons including their durations, for fishing in specified areas of the coastal waters of the rivenrine system closed seasons.
A person who engages in fishing during a closed season declared commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than $500, 000 and not more than $2 million in respect of the local industrial or semi-industrial vessels or 100 penalty units and not more than 500 penalty units in any other case and in addition, any catch, fishing gear or vessel or any combination of them used in the commission of the offence may be forfeited to the state.