Ghana Given More Time To Enforce Fishing Regulation

Mrs.Sherry Ayittey Fisheries and AquacultureThe European Commission has granted Ghana, a six-month extension to institute measures to fully comply with international fishing regulations.

The extension of the initial deadline for compliance, which expired last June, is in recognition of efforts being made by the government to comply with the regulations.

In November 2013, the Commission gave Ghana and a number of countries, found not to be working to prevent illegal and unregulated fishing, up to l June this year, to comply with the international fishing regulations, or risk being banned from exporting fish to the European market.

Mr. Claude Maerten, Head of the European Union Delegation in Ghana, who conveyed the Commission’s extension decision to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mrs. Sherry Ayittey, during a meeting with her in Accra on Wednesday, said the Commission was happy with Ghana’s progress to ensure compliance.

He said the Commission considers that Ghana had made credible progress towards complying with their obligations as flag, coastal, port or market States in preventing fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing which are in contravention of international fishing laws.

Mr Maerten was hopeful that the government would intensify its efforts at implementing the adopted action plan for general compliance of fishing regulations.

Ghana, together with Korea and Curaçao gained the extension, while countries such as Belize, Cambodia and Guinea, have been banned from exporting fish to the EU market for their lack of commitment in tackling the problem of illegal and unregulated fishing.

The export of fish remains a significant foreign exchange earner in the non-traditional export sector, which the country earns over 256million dollars from fish exports in 2011.

Among other measures undertaken by the government, a National Action Plan has been developed, while the draft bill for an amendment of the Regulations of the Fisheries Act to make the punishment for illegal fishing more punitive.

In addition, a Fisheries Enforcement Unit as requested by the Act, has been set up and operational, while the register of Ghanaian fishing vessels has been reviewed to contain only active vessels.

Mrs. Ayittey, thanked the Commission for granting the country’s request for an extension, and gave the assurance of the government’s commitment to address the outstanding issues.

On the outstanding issues, she said the enforcement unit was currently installing tracking systems on all the vessels in the register to ensure effective monitoring of their fishing operations in the Ghanaian and foreign waters.

By Edmund Mingle

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