Stakeholders in the fisheries industry have attended a workshop in Takoradi to brainstorm on strategies to ensure a holistic fisheries compliance regime in Ghana.
The meeting was part of efforts under the Improving Fisheries Governance (IFG) project being implemented in Ghana and other countries in the West African Sub-Region.
The workshop was organized by Friends of the Nation (FoN) and the IFG project partners, including Hen Mpoano and Environmental Justice Foundation(EJF) with funding from the Ocean 5 and Oak Foundation.
The workshop was attended by officers from Marine Police and Ghana Navy, NGOs, Fisheries Commission(FC), National Commission on Civic Education(NCCE), the Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority (GPHA) and the media.
Addressing the workshop, the Project Manager of Friends of the Nation, Mr Yamoah Kwadwo Kyei observed that Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing has increased over the last decade and contributed to the rapid decline of marine fisheries resources.
He explained that compliance with fisheries laws had been very low.
Mr Kyei noted that “there have been political interferences in enforcement over the years, which have gradually empowered fishers to engage in illegal fishing.
He said the future of Ghana’s fisheries was not that bright and called on all stakeholders to support efforts to ensure compliance with fisheries laws and regulations.
The Western Regional Director at the Fisheries Commission, Mr Joseph Yeboah, said the fisheries sector contributed five per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), adding that there has been a general decline in unit-per catch of fishes emanating from Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing.
“We are now getting small fishes in the sea due to over-fishing and degradation of the environment”.
Mr.Yeboah said the Fisheries Commission had embarked upon community engagement in recent times to educate fishers on the need to stop the IUU fishing.
The Commission is using a Vessel Monitoring System to track the operations of fishing trawl vessels.
He also expressed worry about recent hostilities and resistance of fishers to the fisheries enforcement efforts.
He explained that some of the challenges of enforcement agencies include; Political interferences in law enforcement, inadequate personnel to enforce the law, low public education, delay in court proceedings, lack of marine endurance vessels among others.
He noted that these challenges have allowed the widespread Illegal fishing with the use of monofilament nets, generators for light fishing and Illegal transhipment (SAIKO).
On the way forward, the Fisheries Director called for public education to promote fisheries law compliance, he encouraged more arrests, investigations and prosecutions.
The Officer from the Marine Police Unit, DSP Sebastian Folivie called for drastic measures to streamline issues of IUU in the fisheries sector to address the issues identified for the Yellow Card warning by the EU.
He stressed that the Fisheries sector had been one of the pillars of Ghana’s economy and urged all agencies mandated by law to regulate the sector to work together to contribute to reducing IUU fishing by supporting effective enforcement and compliance actions.