The Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD), Madam Sherry Ayittey, has disclosed that the ministry since its establishment in 2013 has not licensed or renewed the license of any fishing trawler to engage in pair trawling in Ghanaian waters.
The Minister disclosed this on the floor of parliament on Tuesday in a response to a question posed by the MP for Effutu, Alexanda Afenyo-Markin, on steps the ministry was taking to prevent pair trawling in the territorial waters of Ghana.
She said pair trawling was banned by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration since 2008 and that the ministry had taken the necessary steps to enforce the ban.
She informed the House that all trawler vessels in the Ghanaian fishing space have been fitted with tracking system called Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) as required by law to allow environmental and fisheries regulatory organisations to track and monitor their activities.
“Mr. Speaker, the fitting of the vessels monitoring device on a fishing trawler is a condition for licensing or renewing of fishing license of a fishing trawler. Section 76 (2)(n) of the fisheries Act ,2002 (Act 625) empowers the Ministry to suspend or cancel the fishing license of any fishing trawler not fitted with transponder for satellite monitoring or any trawler with a defective vessel monitoring device,” she said .
These VMS, according to the Minister, transmits signals through their transponders, positions and movement patterns to a control central platform located at the monitoring and surveillance division of the fisheries commission in Tema.
“Mr. Speaker, here officers in the control centre have a clear 3D satellite view of all trawler vessels stationed or moving in the Ghanaian fishing space. With the platform in place, the Fisheries Commission is able to track all the trawler vessels,” the minister said.
Ms Ayittey noted that the main purpose of the VMS was to improve the management and sustainability of the marine environment, through proper fishing practices and the prevention of illegal fishing, protect as well as enhance the livelihood of fishermen.
In addition to this, she said all vessels travelling outside their territorial waters were also monitored by an Automatic Identification System (AIS) or the Vessel Traffic Management Information System (VTMIS) used on ships and by vessel traffic service for identifying and locating vessels by electronically exchanging data with other nearby ships, AIS base stations and satellite.
She said the ministry had since 2005 institutionalized observer missions where observers were put on vessels to submit reports on fishing activities of vessels.
She assured that the ministry would continue to implement policies and measures that would ensure sustainability, exploration and conservation of the country’s fisheries resources for generation unborn.
Source: Government of Ghana.