You’ll be arrested … if you flout closed season ban – Fisheries Ministry warns

The Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministry has threatened to apply the full force of the law against fishermen who defy the closed season order.

The ministry announced May 15 to June 15, 2019, as the nationwide closed season for fishing amidst protests by the fisherfolk who insist on July-August as the scientifically appropriate period for the closed season.

Deputy sector minister, Francis Kingsley Ato Codjoe has however told Citi News that “we have worked with the Ghana Navy and we are working with the marine police to patrol the sea for us”.

“When you are arrested, there are laws in our books. We are always going to take you to court and prosecute you. You can be fined. You can lose your 

canoe and your assets or you can be jailed.

“We don’t want to get to that point where you will be jailed for going to sea. Let’s just comply and let us all be okay. What we are doing is in the interest of the fishermen themselves.”

The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture announcement set the closed season for May 15 to June 15, 2019.

On May 2, drama unfolded at a news conference organised by the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council (GNFC), in Accra, to kick against the timeline announced by the government for this year’s closed season.

In what could be described as an internal wrangling, a section of the Council openly opposed the group’s stance and intermittently interrupted proceedings.

The dissenting section, based at areas including Jamestown, La and Osu, in Accra,  who wore  white bands,  endorsed the May timeline, stating that it was most favourable than the July one proposed by the group.

Explaining the council’s opposition to this year’s timeline, Nii Abeo Kyerekuandah IV, the Executive Secretary clarified that the council was not against the closed season but the declared timeline.

He said the council did not understand why the ministry chose a different timeline aside July 1 to July 31, 2019 provided by a scientific and technical working group, made up of eminent fish scientists.

He said the stakeholders determined the timeline based on “Best Scientific Information/Evidence available” in line with Fisheries Act 2002 (Act 625) and the Code of Ethics for Responsible Fisheries.

He said the scientific evidence which led to the determination of the timeline was meticulously discussed at a forum before the date was “unanimously accepted for adoption”.

Nii Kyerekuandah IV pointed out that according to the working group, the July timeline would result in an impact of 20 per cent or more as compared to the May timeline of which the impact is pegged at five per cent or less.

The closed season is intended to allow fish spawn to improve Ghana’s fish stocks.

Although they acknowledge that the closure of the fishing season is crucial, they say the May 13 to June 13 date announced by the ministry is not backed by research.

In 2018, a similarly closed season was proposed but stakeholders in the fisheries sector opposed the ban because of what they said was the failure of the ministry to inform them ahead of time.

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