Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Minister-designate, Mavis Hawa Koomson, has said one of her topmost priority if approved is to enforce Ghana’s law against illegal fishing methods.
At her vetting in Parliament on Thursday, she said the practice of light and ‘saiko’ fishing in the country’s waters continue to be a major contributory factor to depleting fish stock.
The minister-nominee, therefore, pledged to, if given the nod, do what is needed to curb such unlawful practices.
“We will have to enforce the laws on fishing in this country. Light fishing which is prevalent in some fishing communities, is an unauthorized fishing method. Since it’s against the law, we will have to enforce it”, she said.
In Ghana, ‘saiko which is a severely destructive form of illegal fishing where industrial trawlers target the staple catch of small-scale canoe fishers and transfer it to specially adapted boats at sea for sale at local markets is often rampant and is collapsing Ghana’s staple fish stock.
The situation led the former Fisheries Minister, Elizabeth Afoley Quaye to impose several nationwide closed seasons for fishing.
This was an act to help in the regeneration of fish stock in Ghana’s fishing waters.
Impact of illegal fishing
Researchers have said that illegal fishing by foreign trawlers is decimating Ghana’s fish populations and costing the country’s economy tens of millions of dollars a year.
An investigation published by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) claims that “saiko” fishing landed approximately 100,000 tonnes of fish in 2017, worth $50m (£40m) when sold at sea and up to $81m when sold at the port.
The practice is precipitating the collapse of Ghana’s staple fish stock – small pelagic fish such as sardinella, a crucial protein in the local diet.
Scientists have warned that stocks could be completely destroyed as early as 2020, said EJF’s executive director, Steve Trent.