‘Ghana can’t close the fishing season for all fleets at once’

By Lydia Kukua Asamoah, GNA 

Okyereko (C/R), Nov. 16, GNA – Mr Michael
Arthur-Dadzie, the Executive Director of the Fisheries Commission, says it is
currently impossible for Ghana to implement the fishing closed season for all
fleets at the same time.

He said the different periods of closed
seasons for the various vessels would have to be accepted over a long time due
to the nature of fishing seasons.

Mr Arthur-Dadzie said this at the opening of
a five-day workshop on fisheries management for journalists, which was held at
Gomoa Okyereko, near Winneba in the Central Region.

It was organised by the Centre for Coastal
Management (CCM) and University of Cape Coast (UCC), in collaboration with
Nature Today Ghana, a non-profit organisation focused on the effective use of
natural resources.

The USAID in 2015 agreed to fund the CCM-UCC
to build capacities of key stakeholders, including the training of fisheries
scientists, to help manage the dwindling fisheries resources, especially the
small pelagic and the sardinellas.

The Scientific and Technical Working Group
of the USAID – Sustainable Fisheries Management Project – had earlier called
for the closed season to be made mandatory at the same time for all fishing
fleets operating in Ghana’s waters.

However, Mr Arthur-Dadzie explained that
that was not feasible because the trawler industry, which was mainly for the
harvesting of tuna, was governed and regulated by the International Commission
for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT), established in 1969.

It was responsible for the conservation of
tunas and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and its adjacent seas.

The ICCAT had designated January and
February as the closed season for tuna because of their migratory nature and
also based on their spawning period.

“Tuna is regulated differently. So we
cannot shift the closed season for tuna from January-February”.

He said the 2019 closed season for artisanal
fishermen was observed in May-June based on a demand-driven approach where the
fisher-folks were allowed to decide which month they deemed was best to close
the season due to earlier agitation on the announcements of the close season by
the regulators.

“Of course when the season was over some
were looking at whether there is bumper harvest but we were looking at the
sustainable nature of it… going forward… was it the right time, how do we
engage them to make the necessary adjustment… .” 

Mr Arthur-Dadzie said during the season,
some scientists were asked to collect data, which the Ministry intended to
present to the fishers and “let them know that we did not get the maximum
results because the timing was not correct and we can readjust the timing
together with them”.

Over the past two decades, Ghana’s fisheries
sector had seen a massive decline with experts attributing the situation to
weak sector governance.

An estimated 14,000 artisanal canoes, 80
Ghanaian flagged trawlers and 300 semi-industrial boats are said to be on
Ghana’s waters and although fishing is very high, the catch had been extremely

Authorities said the fishing closed season
is expected to reverse the trend and revamp the fishing sector.

Mr Arthur-Dadzie said managing the fisheries
sector demanded a collective responsibility to ensuring that “our resources are
protected not only for our generation but for the future generations as well.”

He, therefore, urged the media to keep
following up on the issues and informing stakeholders, including fishermen,
fish processors/traders and boat owners on best fishing practices to save the
sector from collapsing.