The use of taskforces by the ruling NPP to fight what it says is illegal fishing has incurred the wrath of fishermen who say the approach and methods of the taskforces are confrontational.
Ghanaian fisher-folk who express misgivings about the Akufo-Addo government’s approach to fighting illegal fishing also say the government’s clampdown only deals with superficial issues and that the taskforce’s work is lopsided against them.
“It is very clear that the style and approach of the taskforce ends up favoring the Chinese, for instance, and puts Ghanaian fishers at a disadvantage,” Kofi Mensah, an unhappy fisherman of Tema, said.
Along with other fishermen who agreed with him in an exclusive interview, with The Republic over the weekend, Mr. Mensah said the ban of the so-called light-fishing, for instance, totally favors the Chinese.
“We are forced to use light to fish because at the Cape 3 Point where the fish usually go during the mating and procreation season, there are huge holes that are very dangerous without light.
“After the fishes have procreated and are returning, the Chinese who use trawlers get to harvest them easily to the disadvantage of their Ghanaian counterparts who use canoes,” he said.
According to him, it is the Chinese who use methods that really deplete the fish stock of our oceans, including pair-trawling.
The fishers therefore say an incessant harassment of Ghanaian fishers by taskforces formed by the government is destroying their source of livelihood to the advantage of Chinese.
It is alleged that the taskforce at Prampram has robbed some Tema fishermen of many fishing gears and eight mobile phones.
Another fisherman, who prefers to remain incognito, told The Republic that the taskforce often demands a minimum amount of 1,000 cedis as penalty before releasing the fishing gear to its owners.
He fingered Tema cold store operators as the brain behind the discrimination in order to boost their businesses.
“I am saying this because light fishing is almost everywhere and it is only we, Tema fishermen, who are being maltreated,” he added.
Some of the canoe fishermen lamented that if it is true that the President knows nothing about the harassment, “then why is he not calling the sector minister to order?”
In May, this year, the Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Elizabeth Naa Afoley Quaye, inaugurated an eight- member taskforce to police the stringent application of the fisheries laws in regards to fishing vessels.
The taskforce, which is led by Naval Captain Emmanuel Kwafo, of the Ghana Navy, has since come under accusation of harassing fishermen in Prampram and other coastal communities in the Greater Accra Region.
In the same month of May, another inauguration of a pilot Fisheries Watch Volunteer taskforce in Akplabanya, in the Dangme West District in the Greater Accra Region, had been fiercely resisted by angry fisher-folk who vandalized the official programme for the inauguration, nearly beating up the minister.
The fisher-folk say the work of the taskforce is rather discriminatory as it puts Chinese fishermen at a better advantage than the Ghanaian fishers.
They have therefore called on President Akufo-Addo to call members of the taskforce to order, even as they demand that the government take time to investigate the real cause of the fast depletion of fish resources in the country’s waters and come up with fair and just solutions.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Fiifi Samuels