A number of fishing trawlers apparently owned by Chinese were on Tuesday, this week, spotted at Anyanui, a coastal village in the Keta municipality in the Volta Region.
The trawlers, which looked to have recently been brought to the area, were seen being off-loaded of what seemed to be packaged fish into the trailer of some trucks believed to be destined for markets in Accra.
Residents have since become apprehensive, with some fearing that government’s recent crackdown on illegal mining is forcing many Chinese, who were mainly involved in galamsey, to take to fishing.
It is not clear if the operators of the trawlers have received the necessary licensing from Ghana’s Fisheries Commission, which has very stringent laws that regulate the use of trawlers in fishing in Ghana.
The Fisheries Act of 2002 (Act 625) requires that fishing vessels, especially trawlers, are registered with the Commission and made identifiable with markings.
People from Anyanui who spoke to this paper say they highly suspect that the Chinese trawlers there are not registered with the Fisheries Commission.
It is also believed that the operators use unhealthy fishing practices, including pair-trawling, to harvest fish.
This particular technique of fishing is totally abhorred by the Fisheries Commission, even though there are no specific laws that directly prohibit it.
In 2016, while on the campaign trail, President Nana Akufo-Addo had promised to ban pair-trawling if he was elected President.
Pair-trawling and other harmful forms of fishing, such as the use of dynamite, are the cause of fast depletion of fish stock within Ghana’s seas.
Large-scale poaching by foreign vessels, in particular, is blamed for severely depleting the fish stocks in Ghana’s 200-nautical-mile (370 km) maritime Exclusive Economic Zone, causing major government concern.
The most affected stocks are sea bottom-feeding fish. Tuna stocks reportedly remain unaffected.
A 1992 Ministry of Food and Agriculture report recommended that the government accelerate mobilization of surveillance and enforcement units and step up regulation of trawler fleets.
That same year, the government passed a fisheries law to curb overfishing and to help protect the marine environment.
Fishermen were banned from catching specified shellfish, and all fishing vessel operators were required to obtain licenses.
The law provided for a regulatory body—the Fisheries Monitoring, Control, Surveillance, and Enforcement Unit—as well as a fisheries advisory council.
These organizations, however, both of which are underfunded and undermanned, are unlikely to stop illegal fishing activities anytime soon.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Fiifi Samuels