By Godwill Arthur-Mensah, GNA
Accra, Dec. 7, GNA - Participants at a national fisheries dialogue in Accra have called for the placing of an electronic monitoring system (EMS) on all fishing vessels operating in the country’s territorial waters.
The EMS, they said, would aid in capturing all activities onboard the vessel and forward them directly through satellite imagery to central database onshore.
The move would help curb the illegal fishing practices on the high seas to rejuvenate the dwindling fish stocks and promote sustainable fisheries management.
The stakeholders included fishermen, fishmongers and officials from the Fisheries Commission, as well as representatives of civil society organisations, Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council (GNCFC), Ghana Inshore Fishermen Association (GITA) and the Fisheries Enforcement Unit of the Fisheries Commission.
They also urged the Fisheries Commission to publish the names of canoes and fishing vessels that engaged in various fishing infractions and prosecute their owners to serve as a deterrent to others.
They questioned the independence of observers recruited by the Monitoring Control and Surveillance System (MCS) of the Fisheries Commission to be onboard fishing vessels, arguing that some of them were influenced by monetary considerations to compromise their work.
Participants discussed the progress, challenges and opportunities available in the fisheries sector and interventions by government and industry stakeholders to ensure fish sustainability.
The Ghana Inshore Fishermen Association, for instance, pledged to collaborate with other players in the sector to rejuvenate the fisheries resources through the use of right fishing gears.
The Dialogue was on the theme: “Restoring Ghana’s depleted fish stocks using the right gears: The role of Fisheries Associations,” organised by Far Ban Bo Project, in collaboration with Far Dwoma Nkodo, Sustainable Fisheries Management Project and the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council.
The rest are the Livestock and Fisheries Chamber, Power to the Fishers Project and the Ghana Inshore Fishermen Association, with funding from the European Union (EU).
Mr Kwame Mensah, the Project Coordinator of Far Ban Bo, said the outcome of the dialogue would feed into subsequent engagements with traditional leaders, policy-makers and the media, aimed at rebuilding the country’s depleted fish stocks.
He said it would ensure full implementation of policies and programmes for sustainable management of fisheries resources.
Mr Mensah noted that over the years, the country’s fisheries resources had been bedeviled with illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities, with various civil society groups raising concerns on these for government and industry players to find a lasting solution.
He said participant would explore opportunities and contribute to collective decision-making processes and build consensus towards ending the unregulated fishing practices, otherwise known as “Saiko.”
He lauded government for its commitment in the 2020 Budget to improve fisheries governance, especially as President Akufo-Addo pledged his full support towards enhancing the fisheries sector during his three-day tour of the Greater Accra Region.
Dr Isaac Okyere, a Fisheries and Coastal Ecosystem Scientist, Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Science, University of Cape Coast, told the Ghana News Agency that the Department had been conducting surveys into the fisheries sector relating to pollution of the ocean, maturity of fishes, production and management of landing beaches.
He said the research confirmed the dwindling fish stocks including the common pelagic fish, due to the use of wrong fishing gears, destructive fishing methods, environmental pollution and catching of fingerlings.
Dr Okyere called for enforcement of the Fisheries Law, whilst stringent measures should be put in place to protect the ocean environment and keep the estuaries and lagoons in good condition as they serve as the nursing grounds for the fingerlings.