Stakeholders from the fishing industry attended a workshop in Takoradi to reflect on strategies to ensure a holistic fisheries compliance regime in Ghana.
The meeting was part of the Fisheries Governance Improvement Project (IFG) implemented in Ghana and other countries in the West African sub-region.
The workshop was organized by Friends of the Nation (FoN) and IFG project partners including Hen Mpoano and Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) with funding from Ocean 5 and Oak Foundation.
The workshop brought together officers from the Ghanaian Maritime Police and Navy, NGOs, the Fisheries Commission (FC), the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE), the Ghana Ports and Harbor Authority ( GPHA) and the media.
Addressing the workshop, Friends of the Nation project leader Mr. Yamoah Kwadwo Kyei observed that illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing has increased over the past decade and has contributed to the rapid decline of marine fishery resources.
He explained that compliance with fishing laws had been very low.
Mr. Kyei noted that âthere has been political interference in the enforcement over the years, which has gradually allowed fishermen to engage in illegal fishing.
He said the future of fishing in Ghana is not so bright and called on all stakeholders to support efforts to ensure compliance with fishing laws and regulations.
The Western Regional Director of the Fisheries Commission, Mr. Joseph Yeboah, said the fishing sector contributes five percent of gross domestic product (GDP), adding that there has been a general decline in number of units per fish catch from illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
“We are now getting small fish in the sea due to overfishing and environmental degradation.”
Mr Yeboah said the Fisheries Commission had recently embarked on a community engagement to educate fishermen on the need to stop IUU fishing.
The Commission uses a vessel monitoring system to monitor the operations of fishing trawlers.
He also expressed concern about recent hostilities and resistance by fishermen to fisheries enforcement efforts.
He explained that some of the challenges for enforcement agencies include; Political interference in law enforcement, inadequate law enforcement personnel, poor public education, delay in legal proceedings, lack of marine endurance vessels, among others.
He noted that these challenges have allowed the generalization of illegal fishing with the use of monofilament nets, generators for light fishing and illegal transshipment (SAIKO).
On the way forward, the fisheries director called for public education to promote compliance with fisheries legislation, he urged more arrests, investigations and prosecutions.
Marine Police Unit Officer DSP Sebastian Folivie called for drastic measures to streamline IUU fishing issues in the fishing industry to address issues identified for the yellow card warning by the EU.
He stressed that the fishing sector has been one of the pillars of Ghana’s economy and urged all agencies mandated by law to regulate the sector to work together to help reduce IUU fishing by supporting measures. effective enforcement and compliance.