The Ministries of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, and Communications have developed a memo for cabinet’s consideration to improve vessel monitoring in Ghana’s exclusive economic zone.
The memo will basically have MOFAD roped onto the national communications platform to access reliable information on activities of vessels at sea in real time to forestall poaching and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated(IUU) fishing.
Minister of MOFAD, Mrs Elizabeth Afoley-Quaye, who disclosed last Tuesday when she sailed with journalists to the Tema Harbour Anchorage to see how industrial trawlers were complying with the closed fish season explained that access to the national communications platform would greatly enhance monitoring of vessels, protect operators, arrest and prosecute offenders in order to raise revenue for the fisheries sector.
This year’s closed season for the industrial fleet came into effect on August 1 and would last till September 30. It is to allow fish to spawn and replenish our fish stock.
“This year we have had six incidents of piracy at sea, poaching in our waters is also an issue,” adding “though we have transponders on our vessels and they are monitored at our vessel monitoring control and surveillance division sometimes we are not able to tell what exactly is happening at sea, hence the need to be on national communications platform,” she said.
The sea trip was organised by the Ghana Industrial Trawlers Association (GITA) and about 34 trawlers were seen at the anchorage observing the ban.
Mrs Afoley-Quaye said research indicated that the ideal spawning period was from July to September, she therefore hoped that in future the closed season for both artisanal fishermen and industrial fleet could be arranged to fall within that period for maximum impact.
Asked why the artisanal fishermen had their closed season in May, she explained that the canoe fishermen insisted that they would want their closed season in May to June and because that sector had for about 17 years not accepted to honour the closed season, and the ministry agreed to it in the hope that the results would convince them to accept the concept to replenish Ghana’s fish stock.
The Acting President of GITA, Nii Okai Quaye, said their members agreed to fully comply with the closed season because they were aware that replenishing the fish stock would sustain their business.
He expressed worry about plastic pollution in the ocean, adding that each time they cast their net about one-third of the catch consisted of polythene.
A member of GITA, Nii Armah Richster, appealed to the MOFAD to support the Regional Maritime University to train skilled fishermen as most of those in the system were nearing retirement.
Head of Scientific Fisheries Survey Division, Kofi Amador, said the lack of a research vessel affected their output.
FROM GODFRED BLAY GIBBAH, TEMA