President John Dramani Mahama has announced the introduction of a closed fishing season when fishing trawlers will be restricted from going for fishing expeditions at sea.
The measure, which is a major step in achieving sustainable fishing, is also intended to help replenish the depleting fish stock in the marine sub-sector.
At the second edition of the Fish Festival at Anloga in the Volta Region last Saturday, the President said the measure was a collaboration between the government and the industry.
The Fish Festival was instituted by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development to recognise fisherfolks for their contribution to national development.
The festival was characterised by drumming and dancing and other activities depicting the importance of the fishing industry.
Emphasising the importance of fishing, the President said the industry was a major employment avenue for many people and also contributed significantly to gross domestic product (GDP).
In view of their strategic role, he said, the government would continue to recognise the contributions of fishermen and fishmongers to the development of the country.
He mentioned the distribution of 1,600 outboard motors at subsidised prices to fishermen across the country to facilitate their activities, as well as the provision of smoking accessories and aluminium pans to fish processors and traders as some of the latest government interventions to players in the industry.
President Mahama, however, stated that the sector, like other sectors of the economy, was confronted with challenges but gave an assurance that the government was determined to confront those difficulties.
The government, he said, was adopting and implementing policies, including encouraging private sector investment to the fisheries and aquaculture sector.
“This will make the fisheries sector one of the leading sectors contributing significantly to GDP and job creation,” President Mahama said.
The President also called for enforcement of the provisions of the Fisheries Act and the Fisheries Regulations to ensure that the fisheries industry was well sustained.
Touching on aquaculture production, the President said from a low production of 5,000 metric tonnes about a year ago, Ghana was currently producing more than 50,000 metric tonnes of fish.
President Mahama said the government had begun the procurement process for the construction of a fish landing site at Anloga in the Volta Region.
The project is the first to begin under a World Bank programme.
President Mahama said, “we are currently going through the procurement process and the request for proposals has been published. The contractor will be selected, and I believe that work will start in a short while”.
In line with the fisheries resource management programme, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development is implementing the project, as well as others which are yet to start at Mumford, Teshie, Tapa-Abotoase and Dzemeni.
There is also a China Development Bank-sponsored programme under which landing sites will be constructed at James Town in Accra and other areas.
President Mahama said the government was committed to constructing and completing the fish landing sites under the World Bank and China Development Bank programmes over the next four years.
The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Ms Sherry Ayittey, took the gathering through some of the successes chalked up by the industry and said the future looked even brighter.