Foreign vessels are the problem not we, Elmina fisher folks claim

By Isaac Arkoh, GNA 

Elmina (C/R),
Aug. 18, GNA – Scores of agitated fishermen in Elmina  in the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem (KEEA)
municipality have vowed not to quit light fishing until government stops
foreign vessels from employing crude methods of fishing in the nation’s
territorial waters.

Their views are
contrary to the determination of government and the Elmina Traditional Council
(ETC) to end the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices
depleting marine resources.

In May 2017,
the ETC invoked the 77 gods of the area to punish recalcitrant fishermen who
continued to use dangerous chemicals to fish in the area.

While pouring
libation to invoke curses on the recalcitrant fishermen, Nana Kodwo Conduah VI,
the Paramount Chief of Edina Traditional Area, asked the gods of Eyeaba to deal
with fishermen who used DDT, light, dynamite, a mixture of Omo and gari,
formalin and chemicals on their fishing expeditions.

He warned that,
the traditional council would not tolerate illegal fishing practices in the
area, since they affected the survival, health and livelihoods in many
communities.

But, speaking
in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Elmina, it was evidently clear
that the fishermen have sidestepped the order with a renewed decision to light
fishing, claiming that was the only way to get some fish.

Mr Nicholas
Egyir-Aggrey, a 42-year-old fisherman, showed some banned fishing substances
including generator sets, bulbs, chemicals, and banned fishing nets saying this
is the only way he can get some fish.

He vehemently
denied that their activities were depleting the marine resources but blamed the
situation on the numerous Chinese and other foreign fishing vessels destroying
the sea with their unapproved fishing logistics and endless-‘seasonless’
expeditions.

Mr Emmanuel Ebo
Mensah, a 47-year-old fisherman, was 
emphatic that light fishing started decades ago when the Chinese were
given full backing by government to fish – destroying the sea with all kinds of
materials, which they had over the years complained of.

“If government
had listened to us, things would have been under control by now. Government
should strictly enforce regulations in the fisheries sector with prime focus on
the foreign vessels,” he said.

“If all
illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing practices such as the
indiscriminate use of explosives, chemicals, under-sized mesh nets, light,
bamboo and other fish aggregating devices are to be stopped, then the Chinese
vessels must be tamed first.

Mr Kofi
Brandon, a 52-year-old fisherman, blamed the Ministry of Fisheries and
Aquaculture for increasing IUU and other fish aggregating devices and warned of
eminent collapse of the fisheries sector.

The Ministry
should endeavour to improve information sharing with stock rebuilding strategy
to effectively enforce fisheries legislation.

That is the way
to protect the marine habitat to conserve biodiversity; reduce post-harvest
losses and reduce the current levels of fishing efforts and fishing capacity.

On the closed
season, Mr Francis Abban described it as waste of time and called on the
government to cancel it with immediate effect as the foreign vessels don’t observe
that as well.

“We have
not made enough catch as promised of bumper harvest after the closed
season,” as he pointed to about 20 fingerlings as their catch after
several days of a fishing expedition.

“All
stakeholders must sit down and rethink the closed season issue. Since the ban
was lifted fishermen go and come back empty or with little catch. We have
realised that the closed season cannot help us” he said.

The fishermen
among others also identified the high cost of premix fuel as a major problem affecting
the local fishing industry and called for immediate intervention.

They said
recent fuel increment has seriously affected their business as the price of
premix fuel has shot up and its shortages has led to rationing compelling other
fishermen from other communities to compete with the locals for fuel.

Others
complained about some unscrupulous businessmen and women who buy the premix
fuel in large quantities at the expense of the fishermen and re-sell it later
at a higher price and urged the government to effectively tackle the growing
concern.

GNA

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