The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) has dispatched a team of experts to Axim, a coastal town in the Western Region, to assess the impact of the’ use of illegal/unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing methods among fisher folk.
The team, which is made of representatives from MoFAD and some key stakeholders within the fisheries sector, has been tasked to carefully assess the situation on the ground to enable the ministry to come up with measures to curtail the situation.
The formation and deployment of the team come in the wake of reports that some fishermen in Lower Axim have resorted to the use of DDT, carbide, dynamite and lighting for fishing.
According to the reports, most of the fishes were brought to the shore dead and discoloured, with broken flesh and sunken eyes, indicating that they were not fresh.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic, the sector Minister, Mr Nayon Bilijo, said although the situation at Lower Axim was not new, “current reports on the situation were a bit harsh’.
‘I have heard the story over and over again and I do not see why it should be given prime focus this time around. This report has already begun to negatively affect the image of the fisheries sector in the country,’ he said.
Already, he said, reports on the situation in Ghana had reached the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome, adding that the situation had dealt a big blow to Ghana’s efforts at battling IUU. : ‘Immediately the reports came to my desk, I convened a crisis meeting with stakeholders in Accra,” he added.
According to Mr Bilijo, fishermen within the Axim coastal area were making ‘a big deal” about the situation, adding that MoFAD had been there on many occasions to address the challenges which the fisher folk faced.
‘It used to be the issue of the use of formalin by fishermen in the area. We went
there and discussed the matter with them one on one in order to address all their concerns and fears. I just don’t understand why they are acting this way,’ he said.
Mr Bilijo observed that Ghana had, over the past years,been battling with the issue of IUU along its shores, adding, ‘We have just received recommendations from some ECOWAS member states at the ECOWAS summit held recently.’
Asked what MoFAD was doing to address the situation, he said samples of the fish from Axim would be sent to the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) to ascertain the situation, adding, ‘Once the report comes out, the ministry will act on it.’
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