Ten Fishing companies have been fined $3.1 million for illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU) in the country’s waters and in breach of Ghana’s fishing regulations.
The companies are Clear Skies Company, Afko Fisheries Company, Trust Allied Fishing Limited, Rico Fishing Company Limited, D-H Fishing Company, Panofi Company Limited, TTV, World Marine Company, Agnes Pack Fish Company Limited and G-L Company Limited.
The fines were imposed by the Fisheries Commission after investigations by a committee into allegations of IUU and transhipment in the country’s waters.
The IUU and transhipments are international infringements, as well as infringements against the laws of Ghana, and allegations of these practices have attracted the attention of the European Union (EU) to the fishing sector.
Ghana is the third largest exporter of tuna and tuna products to the EU market.
The allegations have also resulted in the holding of some consignments of tuna products at ports of the EU, with implication for jobs in the sector, which employs about 5000 people directly and 15,000 people indirectly.
The Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mr Nayon Bilijoe, who disclosed this in an interview with the Daily Graphic, outlined measures by the ministry in tackling IUU and transhipment, as well as other commitments to adhere to international best practices in accordance with standards set out by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).
Mr Bilijoe said the fines imposed were part of the commitment of the government to apply sanctions in contravention of the country’s laws and international regulations.
They were also some of the urgent measures that a delegation of the EU that visited Ghana from July 16 to the 18, 2013, to assess the country’s progress in tackling IUU and transhipments urged the country to observe.
Led by Mr Cesar Deben Alfonso, the Principal Advisor in the Division of Control and Regulation and IUU, the delegation called on the government not to give catch certificates to the Ghanaian tuna vessels that engaged in IUU and whose fishing activities could not be verified.
Mr Bilijoe said until October, 2012, tuna vessels could not be monitored, but with the fitting of vessel monitoring systems (VMS) to all vessels in the country, monitoring was being carried out.
Thus, as part of exporting tuna products to the EU market, VMS data had to be part of the documentation of each consignment.
He said the government was committed to expanding the coverage of VMS to industrial trawlers by June, next year.
The EU also asked for the VMS data with tuna products from foreign vessels licensed to fish in the country’s waters.
He said those foreign vessels had been asked to provide information from their VMS by August 9, 2013.
The EU delegation also asked the country to ensure better monitoring for the tracking of all the vessels in the country’s waters, as there were too many of them.
Mr Bilijoe said the last time a survey was conducted of the number of vessels was in 2006/2007.
He said the challenge was that most vessels on the list of the country’s books were defunct and added that a scientific research vessel would be in the country in September, this year, for a study on the fish stocks to enable the country to properly align the number of vessels to the fish stock.