Personnel of the Fisheries Enforcement Unit (FEU), Western Command, comprising of the Marine Unit of the Ghana Police Service, Ghana Navy, and Monitoring Control and Surveillance of the Fisheries Commission has impounded monofilament drag net on the shores of the Atuabo beach.

This was after personnel of the FEU embarked on a field exercise in the Western coastal-fishing areas of Ghana in areas such as the Nzema East Municipal Assembly, Ellembelle District and the Jomoro Municipality. The visit to the fish landing beaches was also to monitor and observe adherence to the Closed Fishing Season directives.

Although monofilament nets are not illegal in Ghana and are sold in the open market, they are only meant for aquaculture and not marine fishing. However, some fishers intentionally buy nets meant for aquaculture farming and use them for marine fishing.

Marine fishing nets have a mesh size beginning from 2-inches upwards, while nets used for aquaculture have mesh sizes of 3/8 and 1/2 inches.

In July 2017, the Fisheries Enforcement Unit seized and destroyed illegal fishing nets worth about GH¢3 million (roughly US$552,000) at the Kpone Landfill Site in Accra.

The modus operandi

The FEU team on arriving at Atuabo beach, found monofilament drag net on the shore (wet with salty water and fresh fish entangled in it which suggested that the fishers just came from the sea); and when they saw the team proceeding to their area, vanished.

A source told ghenvironment.org that, no one was found with the suspected fishing net, and those around when confronted denied any knowledge about the net.

“When the FEU team was loading the illegal net into their vehicle, suspect Kwaw Tanikyie of Atuabo came to claim ownership of it. When asked why he disregarded the Minister's directives and went fishing during the Closed Fishing season (breaking the Fisheries Laws), the suspect could not give any tangible reason, and was accordingly arrested and detained at Atuabo Police Station for further investigation and necessary action”, the source said.

The FEU team also found similar monofilament net at the shore of Beyin wet with salty water and fresh fish in it.

“The fishers were confronted and a young man by name David Cudjoe (a.k.a Dompey, the son of the area Chief Fisherman) mentioned one "Uncle Benzile" as the owner of the suspected net. A message was left for David Cudjoe for the suspect to report at the Harbour Police Station in Takoradi whenever he comes without fail for further investigation”, the source added.

The exhibits (nets) have been sent to the Fisheries Office in Half-Assini for safe keeping and the fish found have been preserved for evidential purposes.

Intelligence gathered indicates that, communities such as Asanta, Esiama, Effasu, Newtown, Aloumatuape, and Ankobra were also fishing at night, disregarding the ban on fishing.

“It is highly recommended that the remaining days ahead of us before the end of the Closed Season, our local fishers (artisanal) and all fishing areas are properly monitored and if necessary, anyone found culpable of breaching the law dealt with according to the law to serve as deterrent to others who may also have such intentions. The aforementioned communities suspected of doing similar illegalities should be checked day and night to minimise their criminal activities”, the source added.