Some fish processing associations along the coastal regions have called for the institution of measures and policies that will ensure sustainable and hygienic fishing practices in the country.
They have also urged the government to strengthen the capacity of members, particularly their leadership, to enable them to enforce by-laws that will protect the industry from unhealthy practices.
The three associations which made the call at a forum in Accra last Wednesday were DAASGIFT Quality Foundation (DQF), the Central and Western Fishmongers Improvement Association (CEWEFIA) and Development Action Association (DAA).
According to the Executive Director of DAA, Mrs Lydia Sosu, even though there were laws regulating activities in the fishing sector, there were still challenges in the industry that needed to be dealt with.
“Challenges such as weak enforcement of fisheries laws, low publicity of the sector, limited fisheries extension officers at the various landing sites, use of rubbish as sea defence and high post-harvest losses due to unhygienic and unhealthy fish handling still need to be addressed,” she indicated.
A fishmonger from the Western Region, Nana Adwoa Werum, said the region continued to make huge contributions to the fishing industry and so there was the need to support fisherfolk there with more innovative measures to help them expand their activities.
She noted that poisonous chemicals used for fishing destroyed the future of the industry but was quick to add that the immeasurable interventions by the government could help end illegal practices.
For her part, the President of a fishmongers association in the Central Region, Madam Florence Nartey, advised members to use hygienic methods in handling and preserving fish to safeguard the health of consumers.
On child labour and human trafficking activities in coastal communities in the region, she noted that the situation had now improved but insisted that more efforts were needed to eradicate the practice.
In response, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MOFAD), Mrs Elizabeth Naa Afoley Quaye, expressed worry over the practice by some fishermen in using chemicals and harmful instruments in fishing, describing it as illegal.
She pledged her outfit’s resolve to ensure that illegal fishing practices which were dangerous to human health were stopped.
“Reports from all coastal areas of the country indicate that fishermen are avoiding the use of light in their operations. However, Ada is still using illegal means to fish. More education is needed to let them understand how harmful such practices are to human health,” she said.
Mrs Quaye gave an assurance that test kits would be ready for fishmongers to test fish before purchasing it for consumption.
She further noted that mangroves that enabled fish to procreate and grow had been destroyed by illegal mining activities.
She lauded the Elmina fishing community for keeping their beaches clean and said the ministry was committed to ensuring the development of the fishing industry by building processing facilities such as the “Ahoto” oven along the coast to encourage exports.