BY MUNTALLA INUSAH | muntalla Inusah@dailyheriitage,com,gh
THE MINISTRY of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD), in conjunction with the Fisheries Commission, has begun consultation processes with the various stakeholders in the fisheries industry ahead of the closed fishing season in 2020.
MoFAD in 2019 implemented the closed season for the first time in history for a one-month period aimed at achieving sustainable fishing and also helping replenish the depleting fish stock in the sea sub-sector to stop overexploitation and bad fishing practices.
At the maiden consultation meeting with leadership and members of the fishing stakeholders in Accra yesterday, the Minister of MoFAD, Mrs Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, said the success of the maiden closed season for inshore and artisanal fishers was over 98% because of the effective collaboration of all stakeholders.
“We have a very challenging field and if we put our minds together the retrogression in the sector would be resolved. I’m happy last year’s had a successful closed season from Tuna vessel through the industrial to the artisanal sector and we achieved about 98% compliance,” she stated.
She explained that even though the scientific results of the maiden edition was yet to be finalized, it was important to engage the industry players, saying, “I’m so happy to hear that our partners are supporting us and ready to support the ministry and commission for this year’s exercise to be successful.
“We are urging the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences to bring out whatever research work they have gathered on last year’s closed season to encourage the industry players on what to do for the future.
“If we don’t have any scientific basis to speak on the subject, we will not have everybody with us; I want to encourage the DFAS to come out with the result,” she said.
Illegal, unregulated and unreported issues reduced
On the issue of Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, the Minsiter said “we have made some effort to reduce it; we have not stopped it entirely, but reduced it drastically and together with the industry players, we have a strategy to be able to have a way forward to be able to combat the IUU.
On the issues of the passage of the co management policy, she said the policy was before Cabinet and by March, this year, she was hopeful “it should be able to come out to ensure that we, together with the industry players, implement that policy.
She added that the government was working on purchasing the research vessel and “we are hopeful that it would not be long after this meeting, we will announce that Ghana has acquired a research vessel.
Support for closed season
Representatives of the National Industrial Trawlers Association, the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council and the National Fisheries Association of Ghana and other stakeholders all pledged their respective associations’ support to the closed season.
The representatives, who took turns to speak, assured the Ministry that they would support whatever findings the scientific research team would come out with.
The minister, however, urged them to rally their members so that at a bigger forum, they all would come together and make the declaration.
Mr Ofori Anim, the Executive Board Secretary of the GITA, said they were ready and “are prepared” and that “it is one of the pragmatic measures available for us to manage our resource which is in a precarious state.”
According to her, the scientists should not lead us but also help us to decide the best way and GIDA is ready to hear what Paul Bannerman and his team will tell us. We are ready for any date they would settle on.
Mr Jojo Solomon, who represented the GNCFA, commended the government for the closed season and said, “Looking at the sensitive nature of this meeting, I will want to speculate but once there is another meeting, we can have time to do enough consultation. Whatever science will bring, we are for it and in July if they come with it, we are for it.”