Fishing vessels belonging to some foreigners have defied Ghana’s closed fishing season and have been using lights to fish in the marine waters off Keta in the Volta Region and Saltpond in the Central Region, ghenvironment.org can confirm.

According to reports, the vessels suspected to be tuna boats with the occupants being Chinese and Koreans have been using lights to fish for the past five days in the two regions with impunity.

Light fish farming is the use of artificial lights for attracting fish and increasing catch. The method has been found to be environmentally-unfriendly due to catching of immature stocks, overfishing, high rate of bycatch, discard and green gas emissions and it is illegal per the laws of Ghana.

According to an eye witness in Keta, owners of the vessel are using light by immersion to aggregate the fish and cast the net.

“They will immerse the light for some time and the fish will gather around the light and then they will cast the net and the net size they are using is not the appropriate one”, the eye witness told ghenvironment.org

The eyewitness disclosed that, a complain has been lodged to the taskforce set up to stop illegal fishing in the area but they have failed to act, even though the closed season is already in force.

Close season in force

The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) in collaboration with the Fisheries Commission in June launched the 2021 Closed Season for artisanal and industrial fishing fleets in Ghana starting July 1st to August 31st, 2021.

According to the Ministry, artisanal fishers are to observe July 1st to July 31st, 2021 as the closed season period while industrial fishers are to go off from July 1st to August 31, 2021.

Speaking at the Launch of the 2021 closed season, the Sector Minister, Mavis Hawa Koomson noted that, this year’s closed season would be the most successful one as all stakeholders are involved.

She further explained that, the closed season is a way of reducing fishing pressure thereby allowing the fish to lay their eggs to replace the lost population due to fishing and other natural causes.

The Minister who is also the Member of Parliament for Awutu Senya East said the marine and inland sub-sectors were confronted with challenges that had the tendency to overturn the benefits from the fisheries sector if no action was taken.

She said with the exception of Tuna resources, the marine fishery resources were over exploited and that there were signs that some fish species had depleted.

Mrs Hawa Koomson said it was important that necessary measures were put in place to reduce the excessive fishing pressure and allow for recovery of overexploited fish stocks and rebuild the depleted fish stocks.

Mrs Hawa Koomson

She said to address the situation, the Ministry and the Fisheries Commission (FC) in accordance with Section 84 (1) of the Fisheries Act, 2002 (Act 625) and the Marine Fisheries Management Plan (20152019) was implementing a Closed Season since 2016, which was not observed in 2020 due to COVID-19 management measures.

Mrs Hawa Koomson said the Ministry recognized the fact that the desired result of implementing Closed Seasons will be attained when other types of illegal fishing activities, such as transshipment (popularly known as Saiko), the use of poisonous and toxic chemicals, dynamites, and other explosives were controlled.

“In the light of this, the Ministry in collaboration with the law enforcement agencies like the Ghana Navy and the Ghana Marine Police would intensify the fight against all forms of illegal fishing activities”.

Fishermen unhappy at Gomoa

Meanwhile, some fishermen in Gomoa Dampasi in the Central Region say they disagree with government's directive of closing the sea for one month period to allow for the fingerlings to yield, Samuel Addo reports.

According to them, the notion that the sea gets depleted after a period of time is not appropriate, adding that the type of catch fishermen get depends on the season.

They said, the impression that closing the sea for a month would produce more yield is impossible since the fish takes a longer period to reproduce

They believe more thorough research is needed to buttress government's decision on the one-month ban.

Acting Chief of Gomoa Dampasi, Nene Narh Ohemie II who is also a fisherman believes government should rather engage the fishermen before taking decisions on fishing issues instead of engaging Chief fishermen only.

He said, the closed season is negatively affecting their livelihood and urged government to introduce incentive packages for the fishermen.