A political pressure group calling itself the Fishermen Friends of Nana Akufo-Addo (FIFNAA),  has described as complete “balderdash,unpalatable comments made by the  Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Kwesi Ahwoi about the fisher-folk in Tema, which sort to discredit them.

They further stressed that the sector minister needs prayers to resurrect him from his political doldrums.

The group in an exclusive meeting with Today in Tema, pointed out that Mr Ahwoi on Wednesday May 2, 2012, said in interviews granted to various radio and television networks that the fisher folk in the Tema municipality are ungrateful people who are working assiduously to undermine the Mills-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration’s efforts to reduce the high cost of premix fuel.

Expressing their grievances, the Public Relations Officer of the group, Mr Kobina Badu described Mr Ahwoi as a “political neophyte” who does not deserve to be appointed as a minister of State, arguing that often in the NDC appointees’ zeal to defend the indefensible; they end-up making statements that intend paint the whole country as a bad State.

He noted that those comments made by the Minister really exposed the Minister and the NDC as a group of people who just made all sort of promises to the fishermen in 2008 just to get their votes.

“The question is when did the minister and the NDC realize the two-facedness of the fishermen in this country? All that fishermen are doing is to call on the Atta Mills led- NDC government to fulfill its numerous promises to improve upon the lots of the fisher folks in 2008,” the spokesperson said.

He said originally, “a gallon of premix is supposed to be sold for GH¢2.48 but for the sake of change, a gallon of premix should have gone for GH¢2.5 but the Landing Beach Committees have added extra GHp 20 or in all GHp 22 to the original GH¢2.48 per gallon and as a result, a gallon of premix is sold at GH¢ 2.70 under OFARNYI KWAGYA II Atta Mills who happens to come from the coast.”

He noted that as a result, a whopping amount of GH¢660 unapproved profit is made by the committee members (NDC apparatchiks, even MMDCEs have representatives on these committees) on the sale of each tanker- load of premix.

The PRO added that “It is this booty that appointees and relations of the president have been going round the beaches for their shares.”

He said that “FIFNAA enjoins the authority to implement the Fisheries Act in a fair manner but not in a very biased manner as we are seeing today.”

Mr Badu asserted that the  Fisheries Regulations ban the use of lighting, certain fishing nets, and certain chemicals in fishing but lighting is the only thing that has engaged the attention of the authority whilst some fishermen use the other banned fishing methods and gears unpunished.

He argued that the Fisheries Regulations of 2010 should be implemented in a fair manner and in its totality adding that a glance through those portions of the Fisheries Regulations, 2010 which was gazetted on the 25th of June, 2010 and came into force on the 3rd of August, 2010 raises a lot of questions.

The distraught spokesman asked; “Why is it that those importing those prohibited fishing gears, especially the nets, are not arrested? Is the use of light for fishing the only prohibited fishing method that this regulation talks about? If not, then why the concentration on only the use of light whilst other fishermen use other prohibited fishing methods and gears for fishing but not arrested”?

Mr. Badu argued that it will also be in the interest of Ghanaians to know the hypocrisy of the Mill–led NDC administration.

“Whilst it is clearly stipulated in the Fisheries Regulations of 2010 that monofilament net is prohibited in the country for fishing, the government awarded a fisherman in the Central region with this monofilament net on the 2010 Farmers Day.”

According to him, it is also factually incorrect that the Fisheries Regulations, 2010 came into being upon wider consultations with the stakeholders of the fishing industry.

He pointed out that only few fishermen, mostly NDC fishermen, gathered at Dodowa to deliberate on these regulations. “If indeed wider consultations had been done and the real fishermen had made inputs, then why are the same people kicking against something that they have fore-knowledge?” he asked.

He reminded the minister and the NDC that the issues of pair- trawling, poor catch, scarcity and smuggling of premix, high cost of fishing gears, such as outboard motor, and poverty still persist in astronomical levels in the country’s coastal communities since president Mills became president.

“Meanwhile, these are the very issues the minister, president and the NDC party rode on to power in 2008.”

He urged the president and the NDC to be true to their words and put in place measures to better the lot of the fisher folk.

STORY: KORYEKPOR AWLESU FREEMAN

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