THE MINISTRY of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development in collaboration with the Fisheries Commission will close the season for artisanal fishing from Wednesday, May 15, 2019, to Saturday, June 15, 2019.
The decision is aimed at reducing the over-exploitation of fish stocks in Ghana’s marine waters. Besides, it forms part of measures to regenerate Ghana’s fast-depleting fish stocks.
According to scientific research, one fish can lay over 25,000 eggs during the spawning seasons and, therefore, if the fishes are left for that period, stocks will increase substantially.
This will be the second closed season of the year. The first was implemented by the Fisheries Commission in January to February for only Tuna fleets, with the third closed season for industrial trawlers expected to commence from July to August this year.
Prior to the agreement on this timeline for the closed season for fishing, the representatives of the fishermen shifted timeline.
Three different timelines were given by the canoe fishermen before finally agreeing on the current timeline for a communiqué to be issued.
In 2018, the closed season was supposed to take place in the month of August, but was later postponed to 2019 due to ill preparation on the part of fishers.
The Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Ms. Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, per agreement with all stakeholders, announced the new closed season timelines last Tuesday at a stakeholders’ engagement in Tema.
The meeting on the implementation of the 2019 closed season for all fleets saw participants drawn from the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council (GNCFC), Parliamentary Select Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, traditional rulers, NAFAG, among others.
The sector minister, who expressed worry about shifting of timelines by the fishermen, noted that the closed season was stipulated in accordance with sections 76(3) and 84 of the Fisheries Act 2002 (Act 625), with an objective to help reduce the excessive pressure and over-exploitation of fish stocks.
According to her, anyone caught fishing during the closed season that had been announced committed an offence and was liable on summary conviction to a fine.
She noted that the massive decline of fish was threatening the livelihoods, traditions, culture, survival of communities, national security and food security.
The minister said that notwithstanding the significance of the sector, over-exploitation continues to threaten the productivity and sustainability of the country’s fisheries.
She articulated government’s appreciation for fishermen in the country, saying that “fishing is a very important endeavour, and there is therefore the need to manage fish resources sustainably so that generations yet unborn will benefit.”
For his part, the President of the National Fishermen Association of Ghana (NAFAG), Flt. Lt. Militiades G. Tackey (rtd), asked the minister to ensure suspension of premix fuel during the closed season period in order to discourage fishing.
The president of the association also advised his members to desist from engaging in illegal fishing methods.