Government will empower fishers – Minister

The Government will continue to empower fishers to enforce the fisheries regulation as part of efforts to conserve the nation’s fisheries resources, Ms Aforley Quaye, the Minister of Fisheries, has said.

She said government would enforce the fisheries management policies such as those embodied in the Fisheries Act, 2002 (Act 625), including pair trawling and other illegal and unapproved fishing methods.

She said as part of efforts to protect the nation’s fishing stock the Government would provide patrol boats to stop foreign fishing vessels from operating in Ghana’s waters.

“In spite of the works of the Fisheries Enforcement Unit, illegal fishing practice was prevalent, especially at the marine coastal fishing landing sites,” Ms Quaye said at the launch of the Far Ban Bo, to wit in Fante (Protecting Fisheries Livelihoods) in Accra on Wednesday.

“I also request that when fishers make an arrest for infraction of the fisheries law and regulations all should play their various roles as mandated by law to ensure that the arrested fishermen were prosecuted,” she said.

“Far Ban Bo-Protecting Fisheries Livelihoods” is a four-year project in Ghana, funded by the EU and being implemented by a consortium consisting of CARE (the Lead), Friends of the Nation (FoN) and Oxfam.

The overall objective is to contribute to sustainable fisheries resources management to improve food security, nutrition and livelihoods of smallholder fishers and other users of fishery resources.

The project implementing partners, led by CARE, had already organised four pre-zonal launches in Takoradi, Cape Coast, Keta and Kpando to introduce the project to key stakeholders in the respective locations. Thirty communities will benefit from the project.

Ms Quaye said: “Fisheries provides good source of protein for many, it provides employment for about 10 per cent of the population, contribute significantly to GDP, and is a foreign exchange earner providing over one billion dollars yearly to Ghana.”

She said the fisheries industry also contribute significantly towards food security and the vast number of people engaged in the fishing industry to earn incomes that improve upon their access to food, medicine, clothing and other basic necessities of life.

“However, growth of the Agriculture sector, including fisheries, has declined dramatically over the years. This is why the Government places important emphasis on agriculture including fisheries,” she said.

She said government would implement the policies for a sustainable and modernised fishing industry to ensure availability as well as effective and transparent distribution of premix fuel to fisher folk.

Ms Quaye noted that import duties for fishing input like nets and outboard motors would be eliminated.

She said the Government would continue with the programme of building landing sites and storage facilities at places such as Cape Coast, Mumford, Teshie, Axim, Keta, Ada, Jamestown, and Winneba.

She mentioned the restoration of the Korle Lagoon and the reintroduction of its fish stocks.

Ms Quaye said, in collaboration with the private sector, the Government would develop inland fishing across the country by developing related infrastructure.

She said government would promote the local production of fishing nets and other inputs and place local fisher folks directly in charge of subsidised inputs through local designated outlets.

She said fish farmers and artisans in northern Ghana would witness a new dawn of public support for meaningful economic transformation.

She urged all agencies and institutions implementing various fisheries projects to ensure co-ordination to avoid duplication of efforts and to leverage resources for the fisheries industry.

Mr William Hanna, the European Union’s Ambassador to Ghana, said it was time to limit unequal and unfair competition between industrial fishing fleets and artisanal fisheries.

He called for the protection of artisanal fisheries in order to ensure the sustainability of the fishing industry in Ghana.

Mr Elkanah Odembo, the Country Director CARE International, said the project had been designed to work with stakeholders towards ensuring that smallholder (artisanal) fishers and other users of fisheries resources benefited from equitable and sustainable fisheries resources management in Ghana.

Nana Kwesi Agyemeng IX, the Paramount Chief of Lower Dixcove Traditional Area, called on all and sundry to support the project; because it would bring a lot of benefits to the fishing industry in the country.

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