Gov’t to procure four patrol boats, research vessel to end illegal fishing at high sea – Hawa Koomson

Cabinet has given approval for the purchase of four patrol boats and a research vessel to increase surveillance operations at sea and enhance data collection for policy directives, Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Minister, Mavis Hawa Koomson, has revealed. 

Mrs Koomson, NPP MP, Awutu Senya East, said this would ensure sanity and end the illegal and unregulated fishing activities within Ghana’s fishing economic zone. 

The decision comes at a time the European Union has issued a second warning to Ghana over the illegal fishing going on in its waters. 

In an answer to a parliamentary question on the floor of Parliament in Accra yesterday, Mrs Koomson said the boats and vessel would position Ghana to fight the illegal and unregulated fishing activities in its waters. 

“With the patrol boats, we can fight the illegal fishing activities on the sea. This would be done in collaboration with the Navy of the Ghana Armed Forces and the Marine Police of the Ghana Police Service,” she told the House. 

She was responding to an urgent question asked by the Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, who wanted to know steps taken by government to comply with the warning.

The concerns of the EU include what they said were weaknesses in the country’s fisheries laws, outdated Marine Management Plan, non-implementation of Closed Season, illegal transshipment at sea (salko), weak enforcement of vessels, among others. 

These concerns, Mavis Hawa Koomson said would be addressed within 24 months.

As part of the measures to address the concerns, she said her outfit had set up three Dialogue Missions with the EU to address the issues with meetings already held. 

A 2008 Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy, she said was being reviewed to meet current international practices and obligations.

“The Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy 2021 was validated by stakeholders on November 4, 2021. The Policy would be submitted to Cabinet for approval and gazetted for implementation in 2022.

“Stakeholder consultations on the Draft Marine Fisheries Management Plan (2022-2026) is ongoing.”

Increased sensitisation of fishers both industrial and artisanal on fisheries laws and regulations in coastal fishing communities, she added was also ongoing. 

“Fisheries Enforcement Unit (FEU) has intensified sea inspections and beach combing operations to monitor compliance to fisheries laws and regulations. Arrests and seizure of illegal equipment used in fishing activities (have been done) at Ada, Moree, Abandze, Dago, Saltpond, Komenda, Abuesi and Shama,” she said. 

The fisheries sector, Hawa Koomson said remain a key part of the Ghanaian economy and that government would do all to ensure sanity in that space. 

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

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