Government is planning to reduce the number of canoes and trawlers fishing on the country’s coast in an attempt to save the fast-depleting fish stock, a Deputy Minister of fisheries and Aquaculture, Mr. Francis Ato Cudjoe, has disclosed.
He said the canoes will be reduced from the current 14,000 to 9,000, while the trawlers will be reduced from 75 to 50.
The move, he said, is to ensure that the country avoids what experts have described as overfishing, which is threatening the country’s fish stock.
Speaking at this year’s National Conference on Fisheries and Coastal Environment, on the need for the country to take immediate action to curb the worrying situation of its fast depleting fish stock, Mr. Cudjoe said there is a growing awareness of the coastal environment’s destruction.
In attempt to improve the country’s fish stock, government has made several efforts including implementation of the recent closed-season.
The closed-season’s objective is to reduce the excessive pressure, overexploitation of marine fish stocks, and to help replenish the declining stock.
According to the minister, the trawl sector is currently observing its two-month closed-season.
“Compliance with the directives by the artisanal and inshore fleet was very high, and there has also not been any report of non-compliance with the trawlers as well,” he said.
He said apart from fishing, the coastal environment has a lot of economic value that can be harnessed if properly managed and exploited.
“It is the country’s source of oil and gas, and contributes to national economic development through tourism.
“Thus, with the proper management of the coastal environment, coastal livelihoods can be diversified from being over-reliant on fishing as a major economic activity, thereby reducing overfishing and overexploitation.
Speaking on the same issue, Prof Wisdom Akpalu of the institute of Natural Resources in Africa, said Ghana can get about US$200million every year from the fishing sector if the country can regulate the number boats and trawlers that fish on the sea.
He therefore urged government to as a matter of urgency reduce the number of fishing boats and trawlers, so as to enable the country realise its potential in the fishing sector.
The fishing sector plays a key role in the country’s development, as it helps improve food and nutrition security as well as provide income for fishing communities.
The sector is a major contributor to the national GDP. It is estimated that 10 percent of Ghana’s population are engaged by the fisheries and aquaculture value chain.
Fish, which is highly consumed in Ghana, has per capita consumption ranging between 0-25 kg.