Some local fishermen in Ada in the Greater Accra Region on Friday gave a red signal that they are not happy about Governments move to combat illegal fishing in Ghana. These fisherfolks who believed that, illegal fishing is the only solution to continue the chain of their livelihood have protested Government initiative to monitor fishermen whose activity is depleting the fish stock.
A ceremony organised at Ada Otrokpe to commission fishery watch volunteers on Friday May 5, was marred by some local fishermen suspected to be practicing illegal and unregulated fishing troops who storme the grounds to disorganise the programme.
They muddied the canopies, chairs, the public address system and verbally assaulted the gathering in the presence of the traditional an political leaders.
The fishermen accused the authorities for not seeking their consent before enacting a law that directly affect their work. They also blamed the community Chief Fishermen for adhering to the enforcement of the fisheries law without taking the consequences into consideration.
The security officers present managed to control the aggrieved fisherfolks and the watch volunteers ere successfully inaugurated by the Minister for Fisheries and Aqua Culture Development, Mrs Elizabeth Afoley Quaye.
Mrs Afoley Quaye remarked, “We should see to the establishment of the fisheries watch volunteerism in over three hundred landing communities to.support the law enforcement before the situation gets out of control.”
Twenty five volunteers each were trained from Jamestown in the Accra Metropolitan Assembly and Ada East and are being used to pilot the programme. Their duties include eradication and awareness creation, reporting of fisheries infraction, assist as witness in prosecution, sea and land patrol and to ensure registration of canoes.
Furthermore, the watch volunteers will monitor activities of the foreign vessels as well as local canoe landing beaches such as the use of light fishing, chemical, undersize mesh, unapproved nets, illegal transhipment of fish, oil bunkering, piracy, human trafficking and child labour.
This programme is based on Filipino model called guardians of the sea. (“Bantay dagat”) after a twenty member deligation from the Ministry of Fisheries and Aqua Culture Development, Fisheries Commission, Fisheries law enforcement Unit, Marine Police, Fishing fleet, (trawlers inshore) processors and traders, civil societies and sustainable fisheries management team undertook a study tour to Philippines to observe how their country was managing its fisheries. The trip was funded by the World Bank West Africa Regional Fisheries and the USAID Ghana sustainable Fisheries management project.
Credit: Noah Dameh