Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mr. Nayon Bilijo,

Fishermen operating at the Tema Fishing Harbour have called on the government and the various security agencies to, with immediate effect, start arresting and prosecuting those who had breached LI 1968, the law governing fishing practices in the country.

?The government must gather the needed political will to ensure that those who violate this law are brought to book. If people are arrested, prosecuted, and jailed for using illegal methods to fish in our waters, it will serve as a deterrent to others,? they stated.

Under the law, people are not supposed to use chemicals like DDT, dynamite, light and pair-trawling as a means of fishing, unfortunately, the opposite is what is happening in the country today. This, according to them, was because not only was the practice harmful, but it was fast killing the industry, and the earlier something was done to resuscitate the industry, the better.

The fishermen said years ago, when they were not using such methods to fish, players in the industry were always getting bumper harvests, to the extent that fish species such as herrings and salmon became common on the Ghanaian fish market.

?Today, even though we have a very good season that shows that our fishermen should be getting bumper harvests, we don?t have fish along our beaches. This is an indication that something is seriously wrong with our industry, and we have to critically look at it,? they cautioned.

In an interview with The Chronicle, the Chief Fisherman for Tema Awudum, Nii Odamittey II, said trawlers and what they call ?China-China? were catching and bringing in fish to the fishing harbour in cartons and tonnes.

He noted however that artisanal fishermen, otherwise known as ?canoe-canoe fishermen,? were unable to catch fish, and because of that most of the artisanal fishermen in the country were migrating to neighbouring Togo to do fishing there.

He explained that not quite long ago, fishermen in Togo were not getting fish species like herrings and mackerel, and that all they were getting were what is known locally as ?Keta school boys? and other smaller fish species.

Nii Odamittey II continued that today, fishermen there are catching herrings and mackerel in abundance, and therefore, most fishermen in Ghana are migrating to do business in that country.

?It is clear that Ghanaian fishermen are not abiding by the law governing fishing in this country, which is LI 1968, rather, they are practising what the law prohibits.  For example, fishermen are using chemicals like DDT, dynamite among others to fish. If you go to the Western Region, you can see the practice is very rampant there. Now, when you come to parts of the Greater Accra Region, they are using light to fish, and as a result of that, it is clear the fishes have disappeared to the high seas,? he observed.

The Tema Awudum Chief Fisherman continued that when the fish get to the high seas, and they do not find these chemicals and other illegal fishing practices there, they remain there.

He appealed to the government to set up a committee to investigate why at this time of the year when the weather indicates that there should be abundance of fish, our fishermen are not getting anything.

He suggested that members of the committee could visit the various fishing communities and speak with the fishermen to find out why they were not getting fish, and it would help them get to the bottom of the matter.

Nii Odamittey II accused fishermen from Asia, especially those from China, of being the source of the wanton destruction of our territorial waters, saying they started the same way we are doing today, and they destroyed their waters, now they are here in Africa to do the same thing.

Via: The Chronicle

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