Ghana needs to decide on its maritime resource priorities as a result of a turf war between fishing zones and offshore oil exploration activities, Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, has said.
She said currently the activities of exploration blocks across the country’s entire maritime landscape, were in serious competition with fishing zones contributing to the depletion of fish stocks in the country’s waters.
Mrs. Quaye said this when she appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament, yesterday, to be vetted for her ministerial position.
She said, in order to address the developing challenge, there was the need to create exclusive zones for fishing expeditions saying “We must decide whether we need more fish or oil.”
Mrs. Quaye said, currently the country had a fishing stock deficit of about 50 per cent leading to about 200 million dollars fish imports to supplement local production.
She said as part of plans to boost local production, the Ministry had put together a Fisheries Management Plan with guidelines for inland and maritime fishing production.
Mrs.Quaye said the guidelines had ensured strict adherence to a moratorium (ban of fishing) to reduce marine fishing efforts by all categories of players in the industry from January to March to create opportunity for the fishes to increase in the sea.
She said the Ministry would use its Fishing Enforcement Unit by engaging Ghana’s Navy to patrol the waters in order to deal with unscrupulous fisher folks using illegal and unorthodox ways to fish.
Mrs. Quaye said to improve accessibility to premix fuel and remove the challenges of diversions and adulterations, the Ministry through the Fisheries Commission would monitor, control, and enforce rules and regulations governing the distribution of the fuel.
She said regional coordinators would also be engaged to become watchdogs to ensure that the premix fuel get to their intended destinations at the landing beaches.
Mrs. Quaye said the government had earmarked 14 landing beaches to be constructed at some of coastal fishing areas with the engineering of the project ensuring that the intermittent tidal waves with its attendant damages to canoes and fishing equipment were also addressed.
With regards to the promotion of aquaculture in the country, she said the Ministry would set up an inter-sectorial committee involving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPIA), Water Resources Commission and Fisheries Commission under one roof to serve as a one-stop shop for aqua-culture business.
She said the measure was meant to reduce the unnecessary delay in acquiring permits for aquaculture venture in order to boost investor confidence in the sector.
Mrs. Quaye advocated that in order to also give due recognition to the fishing industry, there was the need to change the name “Farmers Day” to “Farmers and Fishermen Day.”
By Lawrence Markwei