The replacement of fishing nets with illegal/destructive mesh sizes, halting light fishing, discontinuation of premix subsidy, ending transshipment or saiko fishing and limiting the number of fishing vessels have been identified as the measures needed to prevent fish stock depletion.
Prof. Wisdom Apkalu, Director, Environmental and Natural Resource Research Initiative (ENRRI) and Dean, School of Research and Graduate Studies, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), made these known at a seminar in Accra on Tuesday, August 18, 2020.
The Seminar was organized by ENRRI on the theme: Managing Capture Fisheries in Ghana: Challenges and Opportunities.
Prof. Akpalu noted that a renewable resource was more valuable than a non-renewable resource and, therefore, the over-extraction of fish— a renewable resource—posed a tremendous threat to fisheries as an industry and the national economy as a whole, while a reasonable rate of extraction would yield benefits in perpetuity.
He disclosed that Saiko was accelerating the depletion of pelagic stocks, with more than 70 trawl vessels in operation, each of them landing/targeting small pelagic species and transshipping the catch to canoes at sea.
Furthermore, he said, 90% of artisanal marine fishermen in Ghana used illegal mesh sizes or fishing gears and engaged in transshipment, thereby speeding up stock depletion.
Prof. Akpalu said even though the replacement of illegal/destructive fishing nets would cost the nation two hundred and sixty-seven million Ghana cedis (Ghc 267m), the benefits would be worth the investment.
He identified the landing of juvenile fish, fishing within the Inshore Exclusive Zone (IEZ) as violations for which fines were either not deterrent or were not even paid.
In addition, he said, a decline in fish stock would lead to dire consequences, including less consumption of fish with negative implications for health, more imports and constraints on foreign exchange, and, therefore, a lower contribution to the Gross Domestic Product.
Prof. Akpalu said the policy of subsidizing the cost of fishing, such as expenditure on the supply of premix fuel at an average of about 60% was not sustainable and could lead to fish stock collapse, hence the need to abolish it.
In his remarks, Prof. Francis Nunoo, Department of Marine and Fisheries Sciences, University of Ghana, noted that threat of collapse of the fisheries industry was real and recalled the once flourishing shrimps industry in Ghana which had collapsed.
Prof. Nunoo underscored the importance of data digitization in the management of the fisheries industry and called for a revolution in the approach to fisheries management which, he said, meant that the national interest should take precedence over stakeholder interests.
He added that in any efficient and effective fisheries management system, focus should not be placed on the marine sector at the expense of inland fisheries.
Prof. Morgan Tuuli, Deputy Rector, GIMPA, and Chairman for the occasion, underscored the importance of fisheries to economic development.
Prof. Tuuli described the fisheries industry as an industry in crisis and called for clear objectives and best scientific advice to rescue the industry from the ills engulfing it in order to arrest the decline and the biological long-term consequences, adding that a High-Level Roundtable discussion was necessary.
Among participants present were representatives from the Ghana Industrial Trawlers Association (GITA), Environmental Justice Foundation, Ghana National Canoe Fishermen’s Association and the Academia.
Source: G.D. Zaney, Esq.