Most fishermen in coastal districts of the Western Region have embraced this year’s fishing Closed Season which lasts from July to September.
A visit to Apeiwosika at Axim, Shama, Sekondi, New Takoradi and Funko beaches show that the closed season has been deeply understood and accepted by the fisherfolk.
Western Regional Secretary of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council (GNCFC), Michael Abekah Adu, told the B&FT that awareness creation on the closed season has been ongoing and all the fishermen are aware.
“Closed season is a period to revamp the marine fish stock, and this initiative is laudable and currently embraced by all,” he explained.
Western Regional Chairman of Canoe and Fishing Gear Owners Association of Ghana (CaFGAG), Ebenezer Yorke, said the closed season is good as it has coincided with the spawning period (the release of eggs into the water by fish).
But shortage of premix fuel still a challenge
The fishermen are however complaining about shortage of premix fuel on the market, with some saying it didn’t give them a chance to prepare adequately for the closed season.
“It has not been forthcoming, and if you do not get a lot of gallons you cannot go fishing. As a canoe owner, we used to take about five gallons of premix fuel for fishing; but currently as a result of climate change, we need about 15 gallons of premix fuel to go on a fishing expedition. For almost two weeks, we have not been able to fish and the closed season is almost here,” Mr. Abekah mentioned earlier.
Mr. Yorke also lamented about the same situation, saying: “We have not been getting premix for some months, and this not helping us at all in preparing for the closed season”.
Chief Fisherman at Funko in the Ahanta West district, Robert Bright Ankrah (Nana Gyaaba), also had the same concerns. “For over two months now, we have not received any premix fuel. We are praying that after the closed season we will get premix fuel and go fishing. Fishing is my only source of livelihood, so I will use this period to repair my boat and mend my nets as well as take some rest.”
A fisherman at Shama, Emmanuel Otabil said: “I have not prepared adequately for this closed season, as we did not get premix fuel to go fishing for the last time before the closed season”.
Asked what he will be doing during the closed season, he said: “I will be doing construction work within the community, and also do menial jobs in order to take care of my family”.
Information reaching the B&FT indicates that some of the young fishermen had moved to Togo and Cote d’Ivoire even before this closed season in order to continue their fishing business, as they do not have alternative jobs to do.
About the Closed Season
As part of efforts to recover the depleting stocks in Ghana’s marine waterbody, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) developed the National Marine Fisheries Management Plan (MFMP) (2015-2019) revised to MFMP (2022 – 2026) from the Fisheries Act, indicating strategies to curb the situation.
Among these strategies is the institution of a Closed Season for all fleets to reduce the excessive pressure on stocks, and allow gravid fish to spawn in the peak season during the months of July to September. The objective is to protect marine habitats and bio-diversity.