Fisherfolks who disregard directives and still go fishing during the closed season will be dealt with by the law, Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Hawa Koomson, has cautioned.
According to the minister, despite all the efforts and measures made to rescue the country’s depleting fisheries sector – key among them the closed season – some recalcitrant individuals still disregard the order.
In this regard, she said those who are caught during this year’s closed season will face legal repercussions.
“The marine forces will be strengthened. The marine police and enforcement unit will still come around. Those that were involved in other illegal activities last year were taken before the court and fined. So, this year we will still prosecute them if they continue to do that,” she said.
This year’s closed season will start from July 1 to July 31, 2022 for artisanal and semi-industrial fishers, while industrial fishers are to observe it from July 1 to August 31, 2022.
Observance of the closed season, according to the ministry, is in line with section 84 of the Fisheries Act, 2002 (Act 625), and forms part of strategies to reduce the excessive pressure and over-exploitation of stocks in the marine sub-sector, which will help replenish the fish stocks.
Ms. Koomson was speaking at a consultative meeting with stakeholders to take their inputs and suggestions ahead of the closed season, and said the ministry will continue taking the necessary steps to ensure recovery of the fisheries sector – which plays a critical role in the country’s socio-economic development and provides a livelihood for many Ghanaians along the value chain.
“We have done a lot; one is the closed season, and also dealing with the issue of Saiko. The other issues are light-fishing and the use of chemicals, but now we are not able to monitor the light-fishing very well because we do not have any patrol boats. The president has given us a mandate to procure the patrol boats, so next year by this time we will have patrol boats on the sea and along the coast,” she noted.
Installing premix fuel dispensers
The minister has disclosed that about 50 premix fuel dispensers will be installed by end of the closed season and the remaining 250 by next year, to make available enough fuel for fishing.
“I want to use this platform to assure Ghanaians and the fishermen that by end of August we will have about 50 installed premix fuel dispensers. And by early next year, 2023, the remaining 250 will be done. We have 300 landing beaches, and we are going to do the installation across all,” she said.
Globally, closed seasons are considered one of the key fisheries management procedures to help protect fish stocks and also increase their population.
Stakeholders at the consultative meeting included the Ghana Inshore Fishermen Association (GIFA), fishermen from various associations from the Volta Region, Western Region, Central Region and the capital, Accra.