Minister of Fisheries and Aqua Culture Development (MOFAD), Mavis Hawa Koomson, is appealing for Ghanaians to consume fish – but they should be vigilant when patronising the product in the market.
She said investigations are still ongoing into the recent issue of fish washing ashore in the Greater Accra and Western Regions; however, preliminary results show that consumers can continue purchasing the product but must be extra-careful.
“I have not said the fish are poisoned, but I am saying investigations are still ongoing so that is not the reason why people would not patronise fish; fish is good, eat fish; but whenever you go to market, be vigilant,” she said.
She was speaking at a gathering of fisher-folk such as fishermen, fish traders, canoe owners, cold-store operators and fish processors, drawn from all the landing beaches in Greater Accra including Nungua, Sakumono, Teshie, Prampram, Chorkor, Ada, Kpone, Akplabanya and Tema who voiced out the numerous plights confronting the sector.
Rose Ocansey, a fish trader, lamented fish-buyers rejecting her fish – attributing this to the dead fish washed ashore recently. This, according to her, has cost her much because no one is buying her fish and she has to keep paying for its storage in a private cold-store.
She therefore urged the sector authorities to go back to the media and continue educating the Ghanaian populace that not all fish in the market are contaminated, and therefore should consume them.
“When I bring my fresh fish to the market, my customers come around and say ‘you are selling the same fish they said we should not buy’ and they turn away. As I am talking now, the fish is still there but no one is buying it,” Rose Ocansey lamented.
Some of the issues raised by stakeholders in the sector include illegal fishing, lack of credit facilities, limited outboard motor distribution, lack of or expensive storage facilities, high cost of electricity, unavailability of pre-mix fuel, struggles to repair canoes, transport challenges, and the influx of Chinese vessels fishing in Ghana’s territorial waters, among others.
Some of the fisher-folk indicated that the sector is near to collapsing, and pleaded with the minister to put in place strategic measures to revive the industry. They also urged her to apply the law in order to do away with foreign vessels depleting the waters.
Ms. Koomson pledged to present their issues before President Nana Akufo-Addo, and assured them of her optimism on a positive outcome. She also assured the fisher-folk that the fisheries law will be applied in order for sanity to prevail in the industry.
Meanwhile, the occasion ended in peaceful and memorable style, as longstanding fishing boundary disputes were resolved among leaders of the various landing beaches.
Greater Accra Regional Chairman of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council, Nene Abayateye Raymond, disclosed that leaders have settled the dispute amicably – so from now on all canoe fishermen should fish in each other’s territory.