How illegal fishing is destroying Ghana’s fishing industry
The fishing sector is an important part not only of Ghana’s economy, but also of culture. There are generations of fishermen and women who process and sell fish. There are communities built purely on fishing, but the area appears to have been relentlessly attacked by illegal fishing activities, chief among which is the destructive method known as âSaikoâ.
‘Saiko’ is a form of illegal fishing. This is the practice by which industrial trawlers target the basic catches of small-scale fishermen in canoes and transfer them to specially adapted boats at sea for sale in local markets.
Ghana loses between $ 40 million and $ 50 million each year due to illegal fishing. It is reported that in 2017 alone, ‘Saiko’ collected around 100,000 tons of fish, and these were sold at landing sites around the country. About 80 percent of this amount was said to have been landed in Elmina, the central region, also known as the hotspot for âSaikoâ activities.
Overall, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is seen as one of the biggest issues affecting the industry.
Considering the fact that fishing provides employment for over three million people in Ghana, contributes 4.5% of GDP and 12% of agricultural GDP, its importance cannot be overstated.
Fishing also provides 60% of the animal protein requirements of the national diet, with the annual per capita fish consumption in 2014 reaching 28 kilograms.
Ghana’s coastal fishing communities are also under severe pressure from the effects of climate change leading to rising sea levels and coastal erosion, forcing many to flee their ancestral homes, and the looming consequences of climate change. illegal fishing make their lives even more difficult. There are other illegal activities such as the use of unauthorized nets, light fishing and the use of dynamite in fishing which aggravate an already bad situation.
Some efforts are being made to remedy the situation, but much more needs to be done, and even drastically, as is the case, foreign ships, especially Chinese owned ships, have been reported as the main offenders. illegal fishing activities.
The situation even aroused the interest of the American authorities. USAID, through the Feed the Future Ghana Sustainable Fisheries Management (SFMP) project, a U.S. government initiative, worked hand-in-hand with the Department of Fisheries and the Fisheries Commission to implement a five-year SFMP project. years which aims to help rebuild fish stocks in the country.
The European Union (EU) also added its voice, calling on the Ghanaian authorities to do more. Not so long ago, the EU called on the Ghanaian government to do everything in its power to put an end to âSaikoâ before it destroys the fishing industry.
Over time, fishing communities have urged the government to take action to tackle illegal fishing. Although the Ghanaian authorities have repeatedly given assurances that they are combating IUU activities in the area, they have yet to gain the confidence of the fishing community and observers.
Ghana’s laws are very clear on illegal fishing. For example, the Fisheries Law of 2002 and the Fisheries Regulations of 2010 clearly prohibit âSaikoâ. The authorities must show the will to at least curb the practice, to save the fishing industry.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
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