Ghana needs reclassification of some artisanal canoes

Mr. Richster Nii Armah Amarfio, the Executive Director of the Blue Economy and Governance Consult, has said that Ghana needs a reclassification of its artisanal fishing sector to sustain country’s fisheries sector Mr. Amarfio, who is also the Vice President of the National Fisheries Association of Ghana (NAFAG), said in the past, most of the canoes were smaller, but currently they were bigger and therefore needed to be reclassified as commercial canoes rather than artisanal for proper management.

He was speaking at a Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) media forum on best practices for ensuring fisheries sustainability in Ghana.

He explained that without doing so, it was difficult to manage them, as some of them had big and wide fishing nets that needed to be managed beyond just treating them as artisanal activities, especially when used a mesh size of less than an inch.

Touching on other practices, he said Ghana currently had about 12,000 canoes in its waters, that had been proven to be too much and
contributed to the low catches.

He said the closure of entry for new canoes, even though good, had some challenges, as some might have already received permits from the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to cut logs for canoe building.

He added that since it was not the Ministry of Fisheries that regulated the forest, until the felling of trees for canoes was capped, it might not be effective.

‘One challenge we have is that if we don’t cap it, the ministry in charge of forestry may have already issued permits for some people to harvest the trees. So even though there is a closure to entry, the closure may only affect new harvesting and not those that may have been harvested already that are there and being carved to be used as canoes,’ he explained.

The NAFAG Vice President stated that the closure of entry for canoes was good for the preservation of the country’s forests, adding, however, that it should probably be

extended to about five years instead of three years to have an early cap and a longer
period for non-entry.

He suggested that as the entry of canoes had been put on hold, there was a need to get alternative avenues of income for the young people in the coastal areas, and must be provided with literacy and numeracy to develop themselves and move out of the industry or bring in advanced skills for sustainable fishing instead of continuing with old, unsustainable practices.

He said: ‘Because if you provide them with basic literacy and numeracy and let them develop so that they can move out of the industry when they start reading and writing and begin to understand, they will begin to do things differently and may want to explore other opportunities; some of them may want to further their education.

‘If you do not create that avenue, then you will have the challenge of creating a lot of unemployment because there won’t be new canoes.’

Mr. Amarfio stressed that currently, the young fishers are mono-skilled; therefore, if there was no space for them in the industry, they became redundant and may
create a danger in society.

Therefore, while the ministry implements the policy and reduces entry into the industry, one of the things it has to look at is how it is going to create opportunities for the younger fishers to learn trade and have education so that they now become useful to themselves beyond fishing.

He said another unsustainable fishing practice was beach seining, in which fishers dragged their nets at the beach, indicating that most of their catches were juveniles and small fish, not allowed to grow to add to the fish population.

Source: Ghana News Agency