Government has imposed a one month ban on all fishing activities in the country. The ban takes effect from August 7 to September 4, this year. Elizabeth Naa Afoley Quaye, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development announced this at a press conference in Accra, on Friday. The Minister explained that the closed season is meant for all fleets comprising canoes, Inshore Boats and trawlers. Vessels involved in the harvesting of Tuna are, however, exempted from the ban. According to the sector Minister, vessels involved in the harvesting of Tuna conduct their business at deep seas and they were not near areas reserved for other fleets.The Minister said although August had been touted as the bumper season, the same period has been described as the perfect high food production for fish to eat.
“The fish consume food rapidly, grow quickly and spawn. The maximum spawning potential is often in August every year.” According to her the closed season was not going to be a one off process, adding that, it would continue year by year until Ghana’s fishing stock improved. She appealed to fisher folks to sacrifice a little to save the fishing industry and also save them from complaining of low catch.
Madam Afoley Quaye recounted that over the past two decades, the fisheries sector had seen a massive decline and it appeared that Ghana’s marine was heading towards “a total collapse.” She said one of the reasons why Ghana reached that stage was the fact that, there was weak governance in the fishing sector and so there was need to salvage the situation within three years. “Our fisheries governance mechanisms had not been able to match and stamp out the multi-faceted illegal unreported and unregulated fish practices such as use of lights for fishing and obnoxious chemical harvest among others.”
The Minister noted that continuing with the closed season policy with good fisheries management and enforcement practices against illegal fishing, it was expected that landing of small pelagic fish by artisanal fisheries would increase from 15,000 metric tonnes to 90,000 metric tonnes by the year 2025. She said countries such as Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea Conakry and Rodriguez Island near Madagascar have been able to go through closed season and they were reaping more benefits. The sector Minister said security forces and other agencies would be on standby to ensure an incident free closed season. She said under the fisheries Act, persons found engaged in fishing during closed seasons could be fined $500,000 and others could also have their gears seized. Meanwhile some fisher folks have expressed their misgiving about the closed season.