The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) and that of Communications, have developed a memo for cabinet, which seeks to improve vessel monitoring in Ghana’s exclusive economic zone.
The memo will basically rope the MoFAD unto the national communications platform, so that MoFAD can have access to reliable information on activities of vessels at sea, to forestall poaching, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
Minister of MoFAD, Mrs Elizabeth Afoley-Quaye, disclosed these when she sailed with journalists to the Tema Harbour Anchorage, to observe how industrial trawlers were complying with the closed fish season.
The minister explained that access to the national communications platform would enhance monitoring of vessels, protect operators, arrest and the prosecution of offenders, to raise revenue for the fisheries sector.
Mrs Afoley-Quaye said: “This year, we have had six incidents of piracy at sea, poaching in our waters is also an issue. Though we have transponders on our vessels and they are monitored at our vessel monitoring control and surveillance division, sometimes we are not able to tell what exactly is happening at sea, hence the need to be on national communications platform.”
She said research indicates that the ideal spawning period is from July to September, and expressed hope that in future, the closed season for both artisanal fishermen and industrial fleet could be arranged to fall within that period for maximum impact.
Mrs Afoley-Quaye said the artisanal fishermen had their closed season in May, because the canoe fishermen insisted that they wanted their closed season in May to June.
She explained that because the sector had for about 17 years not accepted to honour the closed season, the ministry agreed hoping the results would convince them to accept the concept to replenish Ghana’s fish stock.
The acting President of the Ghana Industrial Trawlers Association (GITA), Nii Okai Quaye, said members agreed to fully comply with the closed season because they were aware that replenishing the fish stock would sustain their business.
He expressed worry about plastic pollution in the ocean, adding each time they cast their net, about one-third of the catch was made of polythene.
A member of GITA, Nii Armah Richster, appealed to the MoFAD to support the Regional Maritime University train fishermen, as most of those in the system were nearing retirement.
The trip was organised by GITA, and about 34 trawlers were seen at the anchorage monitoring the ban.
This year’s closed season for the industrial fleet came into effect on August 1and would last till September 30. It is to allow fish to spawn and replenish fish stock.
FROM GODFRED BLAY GIBBAH, TEMA