BY MUNTALLA INUSAH | email@example.com
THE MINISTER of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development has called on the Development Action Association (DAA) and its members (groups of women into fisheries) to support the government to fight illegal fishing methods.
Mrs Elizabeth Afoley Quaye made the appeal to the women at the annual engagement the sector minister holds with the DAA to deliberate on policies and their effects on the women’s business.
The sixth edition of the meeting but the first since the beginning of the observance of the ‘Closed Season’, a means to restock the depleting fishing stock, saw the women expressing their views on the way forward and how the government could also support them to grow their business.
Lydia Sasu, the president of DAA and Doris Ahadzie, the Greater Accra Regional president of the National Fish Processors and Traders Associations (NAFPTA), took turns to express various sentiments and asked the sector minister to help resolve them.
They pledged their usual support to help the ministry fight illegal fishing methods and their resolve to engage in other economic activities to ensure that the closed season would not affect them beyond expectation.
Lawyer Arthur Dadzie, the Executive Director of the Fisheries Commission, and Mr Manu, the Director in charge of post-harvest Mr Manu also took turns to explain to the women on the need to support the ministry to fight illegal fishing.
In their separate submissions, they both argued that the women are the best people to help fight illegal fishing in that they are able to detect when the fisher folks brought in them. They urged the women not to patronise fish caught by means of illegal fishing and by so doing, the fishermen who use carbide and DDT to harvest fish would put a stop to the illegal practice.
Mrs Afoley Quaye, while addressing the women’s groups, said the women should change anything bad that undermines the growth of their business and improve upon good ones.
“I have, therefore, not kept the tradition but improved upon it by inviting Development Action Association and its members as well as the executives and members of the National Fish Processors and Traders Associations.
“Fisheries and aquaculture are important source of food, nutrition, income and livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people. For instance, in 2016, the global fish production was 171 million with a first sale value of $362 billion.
She explained that “per capita fish consumption was 20. 3 kg, showing an increase of 3.2%, which means that globally, the rate at which people are consuming fish is growing faster than population growth, which is 1.6%. For the same period, 59.6 million people were directly involved in the primary production of fish, including aquaculture. Out of this figure, 14% were women. These statistics imply that the market for fish is becoming larger and larger.”
She said the marine fisheries resource, which is our major supplier of fish, is on the decline for the past decade due to overfishing, over-exploitation and over-capacity of our fishing vessels.
“To ensure availability of fish to Ghanaians, we must change polices, laws, and our attitude. It is for this reason that the government is promoting aquaculture to close this gap, through our Aquaculture for Food and Job (AFJ) programme.
“AFJ is estimated to create 7,000 direct and indirect jobs and increase fish production by 33,000mt annually. We have started by implementing the aquaculture in the prison module at the James Camp Prisons.
According to her, to address one of the key contributors to the dwindling of the fish stock, “we need to reduce fishing effort.”
“This is why since November 2016, this ministry has embarked on closed season, starting with the industrial fleet (trawlers and tuna vessels). The closed season strategy is part of the strategies to reduce effort started in the marine fisheries management plan (2019-2019). Since 2017, the trawlers and tuna vessels had been embarking on two months closed season. To achieve the maximum impact, we need to allow for all fleet to embark on the closed season.
She said, “the ministry, as part of ensuring safe and quality fish for our consumers, has made it mandatory for all vessels to pass the basic sanitary requirements for vessel regulations, before obtaining licence to fish in Ghana water.
“The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development is committed to ensuring that there is fish food and nutrition security, making sure that there is availability of fish at all times of the year. Access shall also be improved through poverty alleviation strategies, including credit and knowledge of the health benefit of fish to improve upon fish utilization.”