Flashback: Some fish processors displaying their fish during the exhibition at the fish festival. Picture: EBOW HANSON
A fisheries consultant, Papa Yaw Atobrah, has stated that it is important to enforce laws against Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) activities in the fisheries sector without fear or favour to help redeem fast depleting fish stocks.
He indicated that stakeholders, particularly politicians, must show strong commitment towards fighting the illegalities to enhance our fish stocks.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic at Elmina on World Fisheries Day which falls on November 21, Mr Atobrah said after the implementation of several policies to get a “green card” rating restored in 2015, Ghana went to sleep making the country slip back to get a yellow card from the European Union.
Ghana’s fisheries sector is one of the key sectors supporting the nation’s economic development, food security and supporting local livelihoods creating jobs for about 10 per cent of the country’s active labour force.
In 2019, stock assessment of Ghana’s small pelagic stocks showed a steady decline.
Annual landings declined to its lowest between 1990 and 2019 with the total landings recorded in 2019 representing about 41 per cent of the highest recorded landings in 1993.
Ghana is now on a yellow card rating which means Ghana has illegalities in its sector and require stringent measures from government and relevant stakeholders into implementing proper management of the fisheries to remove illegalities.
Mr Atobrah said there was the need to strengthen monitoring, control and supervisory systems to ensure effective governance.
He indicated that there was the need for politicians in particular to do a lot more to commit to fighting IUU in the fisheries sector.
“We know that close to elections, many politicians do not talk against IUU in the fisheries just in order to win the goodwill of the people but this does not help efforts at curbing the illegalities,” he stated.
No fear or favour
Touching on issues affecting the fisheries, the acting President of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council, Nana Joojo Solomon, said it was important to get issues discussed without fear or favour to get them resolved.
He called for transparency and firm decisions to ensure systems and laws worked to redeem the sector saying there were a lot of systemic failures that continued to ensure illegalities in the sector were perpetuated.
The Executive Director of Hen Mpoano, Kofi Agbogah, said Ghana was losing about USD 23 million annually to IUU saying it was time to work with all relevant stakeholders to stamp out illegalities in the sector.
A lecturer at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Dr Isaac Okyere, said Ghana failed to act efficiently to replenish fishery stocks saying if we did not act fast, there could be a total collapse of the pelagics.
He said reducing landings, declining sizes of fishes, declining mesh sizes and destructive methods were significant warning signs in the sector which were worrying.
The UCC lecturer said what was even more worrying was that Ghana had lost a lot of the lagoons and estuaries that served as nursery, complicating the problem.