Ada (GAR), Mrs Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MOFAD) has inaugurated in pilot Fisheries Watch Volunteers groups for the Greater Accra Region.
The group made up of 25 members each for all the fishing communities in the Region, would work with the Fisheries Enforcement Unit, Marine Police, Ghana Navy, Judiciary and other agencies to combat illegal fishing.
Inaugurating the group, Mrs Quaye said the mandate of the volunteers included educating and creating awareness on illegal fishing activities, reporting of fisheries infractions, assist as witnesses in prosecution, embark on sea and land patrols as well as ensuring registration of canoes.
Mrs Quaye advised them to be strong and courageous in carrying out their mandate according to the guidelines in their operational manual and the laws of Ghana.
She reminded fishing communities that the level of decline in fish production was as a result of the rampant use of unauthorized fishing gear such as monofilament nets, light fishing and the use of poisonous substances in fishing.
This, she indicated needed required a communal approach in dealing with it, she therefore implored communities to provide the necessary support and encouragement to the Fisheries Watch Volunteers to help achieve an impacting success of the programme.
The Minister stated that her outfit has adopted the National Marine Fisheries Management Plan (2015-2019) to reverse the trend of stock depletion and rebuild it to support the socio-economic development and food security of present and future generations of Ghanaians.
Mrs Quaye therefore commended Greater Accra branch of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council for their request to participate in fisheries enforcement to support the Fisheries Enforcement Unit leading to formation of the Watch Volunteers.
Mr Kofi Agbogah, Fisheries Advisor to the USAID Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP) as part of measures to replenish the fish stock, USAID with support from American People and the World Bank West Africa Regional Fisheries Programme organized a tour for fisherfolks and other stakeholders to Philippines to study their practices.
Mr Agbogah reiterated that the Fisheries Watch Volunteers programme would support the efforts of the Fisheries Commission’s Monitoring Control and Surveillance Unit to combat illegal fishing by Ghanaian and foreign fishing vessels, as well as the illegal fishing practices from canoe landing beaches, such as the use of light, chemicals, undersize mesh, unapproved nets, illegal transhipment of fish, oil bunkering, piracy, human trafficking and child labour.
The Volunteer program is based on the Filipino model called bantay dagat (meaning guardians of the sea). Filipino and Ghanaian consultants were engaged to review and adapt the bantay dagat model to the Ghanaian context and organize a series of workshops for local fisheries officials, canoe fishermen and women.
Source: Ghana News Agency