Inshore and canoe fishermen in the country will from tomorrow recommence fishing in Ghana’s waters as the month-long moratorium on artisanal fishing ends today.
The maiden closed season for artisanal fishing started on Wednesday, May 15, to allow the country’s waters to replenish its depleting fish stock which had been a result of poor fishing practices and over exploitation of the sea.
The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD), Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, announcing the timeline said it was agreed upon after extensive consultation and stakeholder engagements.
According to a Fish Stock Assessment Report by the Fisheries Commission of MoFAD, last year, the fisheries sector suffered a decline of 14.5 per cent in total marine fish production from 342,427 tonnes in 2017 to 293,294 tonnes.
It is expected that the landing of small pelagic fish by artisanal fisheries will increase to 90,000 metric tonnes in 2020 from as low as 15,000 in 2017, if the season is well observed.
The ban on fishing was postponed from 2018 to 2019 following concerns expressed by players in the industry including insufficient consultation and unfavourable timeline.
This year’s timeline was equally met with opposition by some fishermen including the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council (GNFC) who were of the view that the May/June timeline was unfavourable.
For them, a July 1 to July 31 timeline provided by a 13-member group, a scientific and technical working group chaired by Prof. Dr Kobina Yankson of the University of Cape Coast, was favourable.
Nii Abeo Kyerekuandah IV, the executive secretary of the council said 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.
However, after an internal dispute over the timeline erupted at a press conference to register their disagreement, the council, decided to adhere to the timeline given by the government.
In an interview with the Ghanaian Times on Monday, the acting Secretary of the Council, Mr Samuel Commey Okine in an interview said fishermen nationwide complied with the directive despite the disagreement.
He said although a letter was expected from the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture to announce the end of the season, they were ready to resume fishing adding that they were expecting improved catch this Sunday.
Visits and checks by the paper at the landing beaches across the four coastal regions; Greater Accra, Volta, Central and Western indicate that the fishermen are preparing to resume work.
They are mending their fishing net, repairing and painting their canoes in expectation of better days ahead. The second phase of the closed season would be observed from August 1 to September 30 by industrial trawlers.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR