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Illegal fishing at sea:18 fishermen busted …2 trawlers, 4 canoes, 9 generator sets, 8 immiscible lights seized

Eighteen fishermen aged between 14 and 56 years have been arrested for engaging in illegal fishing at sea.

The Minister of Fisheries, Elizabeth Afoley Quaye last Saturday led the Fisheries Enforcement Unit (FEU) in a special operation to effect the arrest.

Police identified the suspects as David Kwameh, AyemAcquah, Joshua Annor, Ishmael Ayitey, Mustapha Lamptey, Joseph Ashieley and Jonathan Commodore.

Others are Paul Kakra, Joseph Quaye, Isaac Commodore, Adjei Ashieley, Kofi Krah and NuerteyAduma.

The rest are Lartey Ashieley, Armah Tetteh, Francis Lamptey, Odartey Lamptey and AshieleyArmah.

The suspects have since been handed over to the Marine police for prosecution.

The FEU which organised the operation on board the Ghana Naval Ship Ehwor, also seized two trawlers FV Comforter 2 and FV Long Xiang 608 that engaged in catching undersized fishes (saiko fishing), four canoes, nine generator sets and eight immiscible lights.

The operation which started at midnight on Friday and lasted for 10 hours focused on the seas of Prampram, Tema, Nungua and Teshie.

The Minister was accompanied by her Deputy, Francis Ato Cudjoe, the Chairman of the National Premix Fuel Committee, Nii Lante Bannerman and Head of the Fisheries Monitoring, Control and Surveillance, Alex Sabah.

Briefing pressmen after the exercise, Ms Quaye said evidence gathered by the Ministry indicate that after a successful closed season this year the fisheries sector was picking up gradually however that was being hampered by illegal fishing activities such as aggregating fish by the use of light.

That practice she explained apart from attracting juvenile fishes made it impossible for fish to rest and go through their normal biological development.

She said the illegal fishing practice went on in spite of sensitisation efforts by the ministry and its agencies for fishermen to stop the practice due to its potential dwindling effects on fish stock.

Another issue of concern to the minister was that the generator sets used to light up the high voltage lamps were powered by premix fuel specifically designed for outboard motors, a situation she suspected could be contributing to the shortage of premix fuel.

“We also got information that some of the fishermen were bragging that they will continue to engage in the practice so far as it puts food on their table,” she said.

“The ministry therefore decided to go to sea in order to have a firsthand view of what was happening, ” she added.

Ms Afoley said that the exercise would continue till the illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing practices stop.

She noted however that while at sea they saw a lot of fishermen who were going about their business as required by law.

Ms Quaye commended those following the rules and urged them to encourage the errant ones to conform.

FROM GODFRED BLAY GIBBAH, TEMA

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