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No fishing in neigbouring countries during closed season next year – Hawa Koomson

From next year no fisherman will be able to fish in neighbouring countries during the closed season, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mrs Hawa Koomson has announced.

She explained that the ministry had held discussions with authorities in the fishing sector in Togo, Benin and Cote d’Ivoire on the closed season and had reached an agreement.

“Now during the closed season, it will surprise you to see that when you go to Togo, Benin and Cote d’Ivoire fish you will be arrested, I am not the only person fighting the illegal activities,” she stated.

The minister said this on Thursday during a panel discussion at a Fish Festival held in Accra on the theme “promoting sustainable fisheries and aquaculture for national development.”

The event brought together stakeholders in the fishing industry as well as chiefs from some fishing communities across the country.

According to Mrs Koomson, she would soon have discussions with Nigeria and Liberia on the issue of close season.

She stated that the ministry would soon go after fishermen who fish with light adding that“I am quiet because I don’t have the means to go on the sea myself, but we will find a means, very soon when the patrol boats are in then we will see who will go to the sea with light and also during the closed season.”

She mentioned that her outfit had been able to stop the trawlers from fishing since July up to now, adding that out of 73 trawlers only seven were currently at sea.

Mrs Koomson pleaded with the chiefs to speak to recalcitrant fishermen to stop their illegal activities in order to boost the country’s fish stock and prevent the importation of fish.

The Programs Manager for Friends of the Nation, Kyei Kwadwo Yamoah, had called on the government to enforce Ghana’s fisheries laws to secure its fish resources in a sustainable manner.

According to Mr Yamoah, Ghana could not be careless in fighting against illegal fishing and the depletion of its fish stock and if that should happen, many livelihoods would be lost thus impoverishing local communities.

‘’Mobilising stakeholder support for the effective and timely monitoring and enforcement of fisheries laws, controlling over capacity, stopping all forms of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing practices cannot be overlooked in our quest to prevent the extinction of Ghana’s fish stock,’’ he said.

He also recommended sanctions such as publishing punishment meted out for fisheries crimes, publicising details of the owners of each fishing vessel, punishing anyone involved in illegal fishing and ending landings of unlicensed species.

He said FoN was implementing a project known as the Improving Fisheries Governance (IFG) for a three-year period in collaboration with its allied partners with funding from the Oak Foundation and Ocean 5.

He said these partners were working together to strengthen government and industry commitment to improving fisheries governance in key policy areas of enhanced transparency, law enforcement, collaborative management, and capacity building of key stakeholders in Ghana and West Africa.

BY JEMIMA ESINAM KUATSINU

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