Closed fishing season kick-starts today …Fisherfolks ready to observe

Fisherfolks across the coast of the country have expressed their readiness to observe the closed fishing season which kick-starts today, Wednesday May 15, 2019.

The closed season aims at replenishing the declining fish stock in the country’s ocean which has been attributed to excessive and bad fishing practices.

Speaking in an interview with the Ghanaian Times yesterday, President of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council (GNCFC), Nii Abeo Kyerekuandah IV, who had earlier kicked against the date for the closed season said they had no option than to comply.

“We are ready to observe the closed season because it has become a law and as law abiding citizens, we have no option than to comply,” Nii Abeo Kyerekuandah IV said but could not guarantee if all the fishermen will comply.

Government, Nii Abeo Kyerekuandah IV said, must not be selective in the implementation of the directive irrespective of who flouted it.

“If government says there is a ban on fishing in Ghana’s waters, it must be implemented wholly and not selectively. We don’t want a situation where we will be stopped from fishing and yet, Chinese trawlers will be harvesting the fish.”

He expressed reservations about government’s decision to ignore the July 1 to 31, 2019 timeframe recommended by a scientific and technical working group made up of eminent fish scientists.

According to Nii Abeo Kyerekuandah IV, the 13-member working group, chaired by Professor Kobina Yankson of the University of Cape Coast, settled on the July 1 to 31 timeline based on Best Scientific Information/Evidence available in line with the Fisheries Act 2002, (Act 625) and the Code of Ethics for Responsible Fisheries.  

“We wish the government complied with the recommendations of the group too because the recommendations of the group is scientifically proven,” he stated.

The Chief Fisherman of the Chorkor Wolaami, Michael Amoo, though not enthused and uncertain about the benefits of the closure said they would comply.

In his view, the end justifies the means and the impact of the decision to close the sea to fishing can only be assessed after it is open.

“It is difficult but we will endure,” he said adding that they would use the ‘free time’ to mend their torn nets and undertake repair works on their canoes as they await the lifting of the ban on June 15.

Another fisherman at Chorkor Wolaami, Nii Kotei, who has four children, is already apprehensive of how he would cater for his family during the closed season.

The assurance of the fishermen follows a threat by the government to arrest anybody who flouts the law.

“We will arrest anybody who tries  to defy the order,” Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Francis Kingsley Ato Codjoe, told the Ghanaian Times in Accra yesterday.

“We have alerted the Ghana Navy and the Marine Police of the Ghana Police Service to be on the lookout for anybody who will attempt undertaking any fishing activity in the sea from Elubo to Aflao and we have the backing of the fishing community,” he indicated.

At the time of the Ghanaian Times’ visit to the James Town Fishing Harbour and Chorkor Wolaami landing site, an avalanche of canoes, which not for the ban would have been at sea, had docked at the shore with only one about 200 meters away on the sea at the Chorkor beach as some young men sat in the docked canoes to mend their fishing nets.

Some of the fishermen who will be out of job for the next 30 days were also seen in their cubicles having their afternoon rest.

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI                                                          

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