…As 2 MPs corner her over discriminatory practices against fisherfolks
Two minority Members of Parliament (MPs) have charged the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mrs. Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, to respect the laws of natural justice by enforcing the laws on fishing equally on fisherfolks in the coastal areas in the country.
According to the two MPs, Hon. Comfort Doyoe-Cudjoe Ghansah, MP for Ada, and Sam Nartey George, MP for Ningo-Prampram, Madam Afoley Quaye is embarking on discriminatory practices in attacking fisherfolks within their respective constituencies.
The two legislators made the allegation after the minister was dragged before parliament to answer an urgent question on the matter.
Mrs. Comfort Ghansah, in an urgent question, wanted to know from the minister, “whether the appointment of the chairperson of Landing Beach Committee responsible for Anyaman took cognisance of provision of Regulation 22(2) (a) (i) of the National Pre-mix Fuel Committee Regulations,2016 ( L.I 2233) and if not what steps are being taken to ensure compliance with the regulations?
The MP expressed grave concern on the fact that the Fisheries Ministry is targeting only fishermen in their constituencies, especially those perceived to be members of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), hence the harassment and victimization.
Speaking to parliamentary press soon after the proceedings in parliament, Mrs. Ghansah said they were not against the government enforcing the laws on light fishing, but it should be done in a more humane way.
She expressed concern on a situation where some of the fisherfolks have been denied their livelihood ventures, because the taskforces set up by the minister constantly harassed them on the sea and confiscate their fishing gears.
Mrs. Ghansah, who sounded very alarmed over the situation, described the ministry and for that matter the government action as “unfair, discriminatory and affront to natural justice,” stating, the affected fisherfolks have not been sensitized enough on the law.
“They should do the proper thing for us to have peace in the country. The fishermen are being beaten and harassed and they jump into the sea, some do not survive. So we are asking the minister and the government to go down to the level of the people to let them know what the law is all about.
“There is a division on the coastal line, the minister has divided the fishermen and there is no more unity. This is not what we handed over to you as a Government of NDC. We are appealing to the minister and the government to go down to the fishermen and let them understand, we as MPs are not for light fishing, we agreed the laws be enforced, but first thing is to let the people know what the law says,” the Ada MP argued.
Hon. Sam George, whose constituency is greatly affected, also blasted the government for taking insensitive policies which led to loss of three persons’ lives, two currently missing on the high sea, while several others also had been harassed daily on allegation that they engaged in light fishing.
He added that to make matter worse, the government, through the ministry, has denied the fishermen pre-mix fuel for the past months and claimed that there has been artificial problem at Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), which is never true.
The former Presidential staffer accused the minister of setting up a partisan fishers committee to harass their colleagues on the sea in the name of fighting light fishing, while allowing the Chinese illegal pair trawlers in the same sea.
He said, Madam Afoley Quaye’s claim that she received assurance from the Defence and Interior ministries to provide the Navy and Marine police to protect the water from illegal fishing were not true, stating,” the Minister lied when she said the Defence Minister assured her of providing protection when in actual fact she accused the Military or the Navy of being corrupt.”
The alleged taskforces, he stated, are known fishermen who are apparently footsoldiers of the Invisible and Delta forces deployed to intimidate and harass the fishermen in their area, as most of them run to their (MPs) houses on daily basis to complain on their plight in the hands of the ‘devil’ forces on the sea.
Sam George noted that a petition dated April 3, 2017, and jointly signed by three MPs from the coastal Dangbe areas, including himself, Comfort Ghansah and Christian Corletey Otuteye of the Sege constituency, on the matter which was sent to the minister was never attended to, indicating her gross disrespect to people of the three constituencies.
He contended that he could not understand why an illegal group of fishermen, who themselves are guilty of the fishing laws, could be used as members of a taskforce to terrorise other fishermen on the sea on daily basis, noting, “these so-called taskforces, anytime the fishermen from their area met the group on their fishing expedition, attack them using their bigger boat to hit and damage their canoes.”
He therefore called on the President, Nana Akufo-Addo, to listen to the concerns of the fisherfolks and call his minister, Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, to order as she embarks on divisive policies that could cause chaos in the country.
However, in response to the question, the minister denied any wrongdoing in application of the Pre-Mix Fuel Commission Regulation 2016 (L.I 2233) which is against light fishing.
She stated that, most of the issues that were of primary concerns have been addressed and therefore expected the concerned MPs from the area to support her to fight the illegal light fishing on the sea.
The Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, in answering the urgent question, also denied instituting politically-motivated taskforces, claiming that they are groups of fishermen and supported by the security to enforce the laws.
Some of the fisherfolks from the affected areas were in parliament to support the MPs in the bid to fight for the plights in parliament.
The aggrieved fisher-folks had earlier this month sent a petition to the Presidency, appealing to the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to save them from the constant attacks by the vigilante group.
They claimed that so far, 19 boats, 19 fishing nets and outboard motors sitting in Prampram have been damaged beyond repair by the illegal task-forces set up by the Fisheries Minister.