Fishing vessels at Cape Coast. (Photo: Erik Kristensen)
Ghana imports 60pct of fish consumed, Fisheries Minister
Sunday, September 10, 2017, 09:20 (GMT + 9)
Ghana may soon lose its fishing stock if nothing is done to overturn issues confronting the country’s fishing sector.
The country, which consumes over 950,000 metric tons of fish annually, currently imports over 60 percent of its fish and in 2016 it imported USD 135 million worth of fish because of the reduction in the country’s fish stock.
According to the Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, the huge imports could be blamed on the steady depletion of Ghana’s fish stock.
“We have a deficit of over 60 per cent of production of fish in Ghana. So we import over 600,000 metric tonnes of fish and we produce less than 400,000. At the moment, we have our stocks depleting steadily and we really have to do something quickly about it else we lose our stocks entirely,” she told Bernard Avle on the Citi Breakfast Show on Thursday.
Afoley Quaye, however, added that her outfit is doing everything possible to reverse the trend.
“What the Ministry of Fisheries is doing at the moment is that, we are trying as much as we can to stop illegal fishing because this is the main contributor to the depletion of our stocks,” she noted.
The Minister highlighted three different scenarios she claimed were contributing massively to the depleting fishing stock including transshipment, light fishing and harvesting wrong fish.
With the transshipment method, Afoley Quaye said vessel owners usually sell their catch at sea before returning to the ports.
“This method of fishing is when the vessels go to sea, they make their catch and they sell their fish at sea. They do not come down to the port to report their catch so the nation can also make revenue from the business that the fishers are doing,” the minister pointed out.
“Another form is light fishing. This light fishing is done mostly by the artisanal fishers and the semi-industrial fishers. They fix a light equipment into the fish with the aim of aggregating the fish towards the light. All manner of fish are drawn to the light so they scoop everything including those ones that are supposed to be left in the sea to grow including those with eggs,” the Minister explained.
She noted that the light fishing method has been outlawed in Ghana, adding that the Fisheries Ministry is doing everything possible to ensure that the law is complied with.
“Another form of illegal fishing is harvesting wrong sizes of fish to the ports. So we have formed a task-force which is inspecting the vessels and catches at the harbour,” she claimed.
She also noted that the task-force’s role among other things is to arrest captains of vessels who could not communicate with Ghanaians properly as well as unhealthy conditions of their crew.
“So what we are doing is to be sure that those who are captaining the vessels with Ghanaian flags; those registered in Ghana, the captain should be able to speak our language and be able to communicate with the crew. When it is found out after the inspection that the crew members are not sleeping in good conditions as well as the vessel not being in good condition that is also seen as illegal fishing,” she added.