Government to increase Vessel Monitoring Stations

Accra, The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mrs Elizabeth Naa Afoley Quaye, has said the Ministry would mount tracking devices at Vessel Monitoring Stations that would monitor fishing boats and canoes that engaged in illegal fishing on the sea.

She said it formed part of efforts to enforcing the fisheries law and regulations, adding We will set up vessel monitoring stations that will track fishing activities.

The Sector Minister made this known at a Stakeholders Meeting on Fisheries Law Enforcement in Accra, on Tuesday, to dialogue on finding solutions to unreported and unregulated fishing practices in the country.

Mrs Quaye said: There are two vessel monitoring stations in Ghana currently and these machines take video coverage of fishermen who practice light fishing on the sea, therefore, the culprits when captured in the video, would be arrested and prosecuted.

She said it had constituted a taskforce to remove all Chinese and Korean trawlers from the sea and the move was in response to concerns raised by some local fishermen about Chinese invasion on the sea and their illegal practices of using bamboo and light to attract and catch fish.

Ms Zenator Agyemang Rawlings, the Member Parliament (MP) for Korle Klortey, who participated in the forum, expressed concern about indiscriminate dumping of rubbish in drains, especially plastics that ended up in the sea.

She noted that the lagoons entered the sea and eventually, the plastics ended up in the sea and cause havoc to the fish stock resulting in depletion of the fishes.

I urge you all to practise proper hygiene and keep our coastlines and cities clean. When we all do this, we will once again experience bountiful harvest of fish at a less price, she said.

Some chief fishermen and fishmongers who took part in the meeting expressed concerns about political interference and partisan politics as the bane affecting the enforcement of the fisheries laws and regulations.

They said there had been occasions where the fishery law enforcement taskforce had arrested fishermen for engaging in illegal fishing, but people often tagged those arrests as being politically-motivated and, therefore, the offenders were let off the hook.

They therefore suggested that all offenders of the fisheries laws and regulations should be made to pay huge fines or penalty to serve as deterrent to others.

Under the Collaboratory Fisheries Management, fishermen have been given the authority to regulate fishing activities in their respective areas and to deal with people practising illegal fishing methods.

Watch committee members in Prampram in the Greater Accra Region, for instance, testified that, since they made sure people did not practise light fishing in the area, it had yielded positive outcomes and enjoying bumper catch.

They suggested that the Ministry should replicate the setting up of such committees in other coastal communities, to protect marine life in the sea and other water bodies.

The meeting advised fisher folks to halt all forms of illegal fishing activities so that, the country’s processed fishes would meet international standards.

The stakeholders meeting concluded on a good note with major players in the fishing industry agreeing that light fishing, use of -chemicals, under-sized fishing nets and bamboo for fishing should be barred.

Ghana has been battling light fishing for a number of years now and consensus reached by the stakeholders would help in bringing an end to all forms of illegal fishing practices in the country.

Source: Ghana News Agency

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