Stakeholders in Ghana’s fishing industry have stressed the need for players in the industry to encourage and promote sustainable and responsible fishing.
Speaking in an interview with Times Business, Mr. Kwadwo Kyei Yamoah, Programme Coordinator, Friends of The Nation (FoN), a socio-environmental advocacy group said fishery was a very important natural resource that the nation needed to manage effectively to address the massive and deepening poverty in most of these coastal areas and communities that depend on fisheries.
Mr. Yamoah said FoN and Hen Mpoano, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) with support from the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund are advocating a co-management law in the fisheries sector to deepen citizen participation and help reverse the dwindling fortunes of the sector.
He said the co-management law would give the fisher folks the mandate to be part of the regulatory processes and ultimately help in enforcing the laws to regulate illegal fishing practices.
“What we are advocating now is the need for a co-management law that will increase engagement with the fishermen and make them part of the regulation process. They need to be part of governance because once they understand the issues they can also play their role in ensuring that fishing activities are done sustainably,” he said.
Mr. Yamoah said, “We are working with the media to be part of the campaign and it is very important. Amazingly the fisher folks are ready to work with government for alternatives. We are working with high judges to better understand the law and proceed accordingly.”
Kofi Agbogah, Director of Hen Mpoano, an organisation that deals with coastal people and government in a bid to support integrated coastal management as well as fisheries governance added his voice to the need for the country to have a co-management law to help the industry.
“As of today we are harvesting as much fish as we were harvesting 50 or 60 years ago at which time the population was about 4 million, so there is a problem there. The legal regime allows for anybody to go to sea, unlike license to drive it is not the same for fisheries. Everyone is racing to catch the last fish. People are employing all kinds of means to catch fish,” he said.
He said, “We have gone pass the maximum yield that the marine environment can provide us. We are on a steep decline so there is need to put in structures that would ensure that we get fishes back into the sea. Poverty is rife, coastal people don’t know where the next meal is coming from.”
Mr. Godfrey Baidoo-Tsib, Director, Monitoring Control Surveillance Division of the Fisheries Commission said the commission, had developed the 2015-2019 plan to address the issues, looking at the reducing number of fishing days for industrial fleet (three years by 50 per cent) and also fishermen setting aside another day to the already Tuesdays for non fishing to ensure sustainability.
By David Adadevoh