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Fishing industry to add $1 billion to government revenue

 The fishing industry in Ghana will contribute over a $ one billion dollars to government revenue if stringent measures are put in place to deal with illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing {IUU} methods. 

The practice that has been in existence for over eight years now is said to have depleted the nation’s fish stock, beautiful coastal wetlands and an annual loss of over $ 100 million dollars.

This was revealed to the Public Agenda during an interview with Chief Fisherman of James Town Nii Ayibli II in Accra last Tuesday.

He was reacting to questions on how far the introduction of a Fishing Research Vessel on Ghanaian sea to clamp down on illegal fishing by government will help revamp the fishing industry”

He lamented that the industry is contributing meaningfully to poverty reduction by providing jobs to over four million Ghanaian Fishers and about 60 per cent of animal protein needs to Ghanaians, seen a rapid decline, which he attributes to lack of political-will on the part of government to enforce the law and ensure compliance to restrain illegal fishing methods and theft in Ghanaian territorial waters. The chief Fisherman was very sad to note that, “the use of chemicals, light, dynamites and explosives is the worse method of fishing because everything is wrong about it. The fish stock is destroyed, the sea is contaminated and the harvest is poisonous and detrimental to the health of consumer. Nowadays we spend more time, more energy, more money, and more effort but get less and less fish each day,”.

He added that there is steady decline in the fishing sector, and this is a threat to food security government must act to protect the sector.” Ghana’s fishing regulations require the development of a comprehensive fisheries enforcement and compliance strategy and deterrence” Nii Ayibli II expressed hope that the Fishing Research Vessel will provide all the answers to the puzzle of illegal fishing.

Illegal fishing is when fishing vessels or harvesters operate in desecration of the laws of fishery.

In many maritime regions of the world, this act has massively contributed to the depletion of fish stocks and this happens mostly in developing countries coastal waters. Over hundred billion dollars ($100,000,000,000) is lost annually along the west African coasts due to these methods of fishing.

In Ghana, the last stock survey conducted in April 2016, indicates that sardines, the dominant fish stocks are disappearing from Ghanaian waters. Though population growth is a factor, illegal fishing, over exploitation of marine resources, high volumes of plastic and metal wastes that chokes the breeding habitats for fishes.

In order to clamp down on this menace the president of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo has set up an inter-ministerial committee and a Fisheries Management Plan to ensure a long term preservation of the country’s waters and marine stock. This will go a long way to reduce excessive pressure on the marine stock, enforce effective legislation, strengthen participatory decision making and the country meeting its regional and international obligations.

He announced this last month when he was welcoming a Fishing Vessel (DR. Fridjof Nansen) which is equipped to undertake study of the eco-system and fishing research.” The country risk being fish deficient if illegal fishing is not checked. Illegal fishing as well as the over exploitation of Ghana’s marine resources cannot continue as they threaten the country’s existence. In recent times, nearly all Ghana’s marine and inland fisheries has been over fished.

He added that,” as a co-chair of Advocacy of Eminent Persons for the United Nations Development Goals(UDGs) I will ensure that countries conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for the sustainable development. Eliminating pollution on Ghana’s Coast and significantly reducing pollution in the marine ecosystem by 2025 by tackling the current challenges posed by the use of plastic and indiscriminate disposal of waste.

We aim to complete the assessment of ecological sensitive areas along Ghana’s coast and designate it the first marine protected area by 2025 to safeguard coastal and marine biodiversity. We recognize the worth of resources the ocean provides forms an important part of the common heritage of mankind and we owe it to ourselves and succeeding generations to conserve this natural heritage’

The President concluded that, ‘let us continue to develop our oil finds and fish resources as an integrated entity where food security is guaranteed and business thrive’

Reacting to this a fisherman at the James Town in Accra, Nii Martei Martey lauded the initiative but was quick to add that there have been various attempts to stop illegal fishing but its enforced for a short period of time and the recalcitrant fishermen return to illegal fishing. He lamented that the country has nothing left as stock in its ocean as compared to when he started fishing twenty-two years ago.

He continued that the fishing trolleys used in industrialised fishing on Ghanaian seas are actively involved in over fishing which is rapidly depleting Ghana’s fish stock. He explained that during the last elector campaign when laws on illegal fishing was enforced perfectly implemented for a few months’ harvest improved. The fisherman lamented that Ghana is worst in the west African sub-region when it comes implementation of laws on illegal fishing.

 

By: Afia  Nyarko Asare

 

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