Fish caught with light and chemicals at Axim The generator and light used in causing the damage
Fish caught with light and chemicals at Axim The generator and light used in causing the damage

“The Sea is Dead…” That is what you hear, with varying nuances and in different languages along the entire coastal stretch of Ghana. ?In short, the stock of fish in Ghanaian oceans has been heavily depleted, and poverty levels of fishing communities may very well be the fastest deteriorating in Ghana today. ?At least, in Northern Ghana, which we tout all the time as most poor, they have vast fertile land, and when the rains are good, they farm and harvest.

Fishing, and marine fishing particularly, however, belongs to the group we refer to as robber industry, and appropriately so, because the sea is being robbed off in many ways, legally and illegally, willingly and unwillingly. And the fishing communities are being robbed off or are robbing themselves off their otherwise most lucrative and prosperous livelihood.

And they tell us this has been happening over the past 10-15 years. Light fishing, pair trawling, use of poisonous chemicals and dynamites in the oceans, over fishing, too many fishing boats in Ghana, fishing in wrong waters and at wrong depths are among the things listed as killing the seas.

Fish caught with light and chemicals at Axim The generator and light used in causing the damage
Fish caught with light and chemicals at Axim The generator and light used in causing the damage

Fortunately, the fisherfolks know what has gone wrong, and they know how to right the wrongs… All that is needed, they say, is the catalyst, motivation, empowerment, enforcement, punishment (sometimes), consultation, participation, resources etc etc. And of course communication! This may sound like a tall list, but for an industry which is is now virtually living ‘from hand to mouth’, as we say here, all they need is that little push, or that little intervention… And they can, and should be doing a great deal by themselves and for themselves… So what’s wrong? And what is the Government doing?
And, by the way, what is it about Ghana, that makes Ghanaians religiously and pathologically lawless? ?What is it that makes us flout laws in our own country, but when we are in another country, we are the most law abiding? ?So we hear that about 90% of fisherfolks in La Cote d’Ivoire are Ghanaians, and over there, who are you to flout laws? And who are you not to pay your taxes? ?You could lose your boat and fishing gear, fined and/or imprisoned… You may say we do not need a police state, but incidentally, enforcement is top among the things the fisherfolks believe will save the sea from dying…

But they also say they are sick and tired of people coming and going – politicians, donors, bureaucrats (akrakyi), media, NGOs etc etc… You can’t blame them. ?Many things have been tried before, and religiously abandoned. ?You name it… boat numbering, done before; enforcement, done before; politics, done before; promises, done before.

Licensing has started, but moving too slow. ?Some fisher folks have still not heard about that. ?Most of them have filled forms and awaiting their numbers. The Fisheries Enforcement Unit is in place, and we saw some of their men and women at work, but we need to scale up and get those vital tools and equipment to them so they can do the work.
My biggest nightmare, though, after trekking the entire beach front of Ghana and observing all the various fishing practices and mulpractices, is that fact that the fried fish accompanying my beloved Kenkey dish, or the herrings used in preparing the shito I bought the other day, may very well have been caught using dynamites, DDT or other such chemicals.? When you see how the fingers of the women who process this type of fish has deteriorated, you will not be surprised why we are ?catching? (if not dying of) all kinds of ailments?

Finally, I believe we need to seriously think about at a special LEAP program for the fishing communities. They really need help, and sooner than later… To be continued…

Source? NShoreNA Dairy


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