The decision by the government to ban fishing in Ghanaian waters for the last one month to help improved harvest of fish has produced no result.
Speaking at the 2nd conference on fisheries and coastal environment under the theme: Fisheries and coastal governance in contemporary age, Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Francis K. A Codjoe revealed that, the closed-season has not yielded the needed result as anticipated.
According to him, he was surprised when he visited the Volta region with cameras to see whether the closed season yielded results only to see empty nets.
He, however, appealed to experts in the fishing industry to help politicians to take better major decisions in the sector.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development banned fishing between May 15 to June 15, 2019, for both inshore and artisanal fishers to allow fish stock to grow in multitude.
Sector Minister, Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, who announced fishing ban at a news conference held in Accra stated that the fishermen were properly engaged in order to avert any opposition, stressing that, “this closed fishing season was demand-driven and voluntary one and therefore, the fishermen were asked to provide a suitable period that they found comfortable.”
A fisheries resource scientist Prof Patrick Ofori-Danson in a paper presented on the topic “Fishing closed season: at whose cost and for whose benefit,” stated that about 98% of fishermen stayed in Ghana during the closed season and only a little over 1% went to other countries to fish.
During a plenary discussion on his presentation, Prof Kobina Yankson, Chairman of the SFMP Scientific and Technical Working Group said the closed season should be done at a period where the fishes are at the peak of breeding.
He said, “if we want to close the season and restock our fish stock, we should do it at the peak bleeding season which is August not May.”
He added that fishermen were not given adequate education before the closed season but they were wrongly made to understand that there will be a lot of fish after the closed season.
Resource Economist Specialized in Fisheries Economics Professor Wisdom Akpalu asserted that if humans declare war on a resource, and the number of the resource they kill are more than what is produced, then it is a dangerous situation.
He said there are too many people fishing with too many vessels on the sea catching more than they are supposed to catch in a day.
These according to him is a dangerous situation for the Ghanaian economy.
He, however, recommended that the number of vessels is reduced from the current 14000 to 9000 and canoes reduced from 75000 to 5000.
In his keynote address, Professor Rashid Sumaila of the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British, Columbia called on the authorities to make illegal fishing unprofitable and redirection of harmful subsidies like premixed. He also suggested the removal of the incentives that encourage overfishing and improve upon natural fishing management
Professor Rashid Sumaila noted that 60% of the world population lives very close to the coast and 50% of the oxygen on the earth is generated from the ocean as the ocean also constantly regulates the temperature of the earth.
Given an account of the Ghana situation, Professor Rashid said, “over 1 billion dollars is generated from the marine annually as revenue which accounts for 4.5% of Gross Domestic Product GDP”.
He mentioned that about 2.4 million Ghanaians representing 10% of the population are employed through fishing.
The second Conference on Fisheries and Coastal Environment (CFCE) was organized by The Centre for Coastal Management (CCM) and the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences of the University of Cape Coast in collaboration with the University of Rhode Island (USA) with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
These conferences are designed to strengthen policy linkages and enable policymakers, fishermen & fishmongers, researchers, journalists, and think-tanks connect their voices to the sustainable fisheries and coastal development agenda of Ghana and the West African sub-region at large.
The CFCE 2019 has provided an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss topical fisheries management issues such as closed seasons, oil and gas development, transhipment, sanitation, ocean governance, the blue economy, livelihoods, child labour and human trafficking as well as social resilience in coastal areas.