The Concerned Greater Accra Region Canoe Fishermen Association headquartered in Sege, the capital of Ada West District have petitioned President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to save their members from what they describe as attacks by a vigilante group formed by the Minister for Fisheries and and Aquaculture Development, Miss Elizabeth Afoley Quaye.
According to them, the Minister has illegally formed the vigilante group from neighbouring Prampram which she is using to harass them on the high seas anytime they go fishing. They cannot understand why an illegal group from Prampram, who themselves are violators of three out of the four fishing laws, would be used to terrorise them. According to residents, anytime they meet them, the group always use their bigger boat to hit and damage their smaller ones. And as if that’s not enough they stone them and sometimes use cutlasses and and other weapons to hit them.
In a letter dated 4th July, 2017 addressed to the Chief of Staff, Flagstaff House and copied to the Chairman, National Peace Council, Minister of Interior, Minister of Defence, National Security Head, Member of Council of State for Greater Accra Region, MP for Sege, MP for Ada East, MP for Ningo-Prampram, DCE for Ningo-Prampram, DCE for Ada West, Paramount Chief of Ada Traditional Council and NPP National Chairman, the association called on the authorities to come to their aid.
Below is the full text of the petition:
PETITION AGAINST RECENT UNLAWFUL ATTACKS ON SOME FISHERMEN BY PRAMPRAM AND AZZIZANYA FISHERMEN
We wish to draw your attention to a rather unfortunate development in our waters between Tema and Ada, which has been premised on government’s quest to stamp out illegal fishing methods.
In this regard, there has been a recent spate of attacks on unarmed fishermen at sea by insurgent groups made up of fishermen from Prampram and Azzizanya in the Ningo-Prampram and Ada East constituencies respectively, all in the Greater Accra region.
These clashes have resulted in the loss of lives and damage to properties running into millions of Ghana Cedis, as they have been indiscriminate and gory in nature.
We were greatly astonished to learn that these profoundly unlawful and ferocious goings-on were being authorized and facilitated by the Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Miss Elizabeth Afoley Quaye.
As you would agree, these acts acutely contravene our laws and, could spark up unrests if nothing gets done about it with the urgency and sensitivity it deserves. The Nkonya – Alavanyo, Konkonba – Nanomba instances are not far-fetched.
About two months ago, specifically on the 4th and 6th May 2017, two of such incidents happened at sea, and were reported to the Greater Accra Regional Minister, Mr. Ishmael Ashietey, however there was no response from him.
Only days after those incursions a third one was carried out by the Prampram half of the groups, culminating in the seizure of property, which included boats, nets, and outboard motors numbering eighteen (18) each in all instances.
As if these three attacks were not enough, this same Prampram group on the night of June 29, made another strike on three more boats, wounding men onboard who were on a conventional overnight fishing expedition locally termed as ‘OBUEE’
Aside inflicting wounds on the men, their fishing equipment were seized, destroyed and hauled to the Prampram Beach.
Paradoxically, this very incident occurred after the Minister had declared at a stakeholder’s meeting to stop further arrests and attacks by self-willed vigilante groups.
Again, on the morning of July 3, 2017 two fishing boats from Azzizanya near Ada Foah were organized to attack one boat on the Volta River, while returning from fishing (OBUEE) the previous night, resulting in seven (7) casualties.
So far, there are nineteen (19) boats, nineteen (19) fishing nets as well as outboard motors sitting in Prampram, damaged beyond repairs.
The cost of one fishing boat at the very minimum is in the region of Thirty Thousand Ghana Cedis (Gh¢ 30,000.00), and one outboard motor is selling at Fourteen Thousand Seven Hundred Ghana Cedis (Gh¢ 14,700.00). The fishing net costs between Seventy and Ninety Thousand Ghana Cedis (Gh¢ 70,000 to Gh¢ 90,000.00), depending on the size and length.
We consider these happenings very unfortunate and condemnable, owing to the following reasons:
- That the methods of attacks and arrests are recipes for chaos and generational hatred among communities as cited above.
- Light fishing is just one of the four main illegal fishing activities mentioned in the fisheries laws viz:
a. Use of Monofilaments, e.g. rubber nets
b. The use of under-meshed nets (Poly)
c. The application of chemicals like: dynamites, DDT, Carbides, etc. which are being used by fishers including the assailant groups themselves.
- The absence of an alternative livelihood could be a threat to the survival for the 10% of the nation’s population living along the coast.
- The refusal of the Premix Fuel Secretariat and for that matter, the Ministry for Fisheries to supply premix fuel to these communities for months now running, with the excuse that they’re engaging in light fishing.
This is most unfair as not all fishermen is these areas engage in the practice and, other fishing communities who although, engage in like practice are being supplied with the product anyway.
We hereby humbly wish to implore your office for the following:
- That the brutal and unprofessional method and system of arrest by the Prampram and Azzizanya insurgent Fishermen be stopped immediately since it is a recipe for disquiet.
- That the seized fishing gears (Boats, Nets and Outboard motors) currently packed at Prampram be released to their owners since further delays could cause further damage to the nets and the outboard motors especially.
- That the selective, and sparing implementation of the fishery laws be looked into as it appears the focus of the fisheries Minister is one-sided i.e. the ban on only light fishing, in only Greater Accra region, leaving the other regions unchecked and untouched till date (e.g. Central and Western Regions),
- Government should allow some time to face out these illegal fishing activities since it affects most of the fishermen along the coasts of Ghana. Some of these fishermen have contracted loans from banks and other sources and failure to repay could have adverse effects on them and their families.
We are saying all these because, most of the chief fishermen, after discussing issues with government, fail to pass them on to the canoe fishermen and owners, hence the sudden implementation of this light fishing law especially is a threat to their survival.
- Dialogue between government and all stakeholders in the fishing industry openly shall help ease up tensions currently if not solve this problem amicably.
- The use of untrained civilians at the mockery of the trained and nationally-paid and accredited task force namely, the Navy, Marine Police and Fisheries Commission should not be entertained going forward.
Proposed video surveillance equipment
At a recently organized workshop by the Fisheries Ministry, the Minister made the participants aware of an acquisition of a video surveillance device that can detect and film any wrongdoer at sea leading to their arrest and subsequent fines.
We are asking the whereabouts of the said apparatus, and why are the video surveillance cameras not put to work to abate the illegalities and brutalities and unrests?
It is our prayer and hope that you would use your good office and powers to bring about the needed sanity into the issue for a lasting solution to be found to save the poor fishermen in the nation’s capital.