The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) in collaboration with the Fisheries Commission has 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.

It would be recalled that, in 2019, the observation of the closed season generated some controversy among key stakeholders in the industry under the former Minister, Mrs. Elizabeth Naa Afoley Quaye.

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.

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”.

She said, efforts were underway to procure four patrol boats for the fisheries to enhance monitoring, control and surveillance activities on marine waters, sector and research vessel to provide adequate data on marine fish stocks even as we embark on this recovery process.

“While steps are being taken towards the recovery of the depleted marine fish stocks, efforts are also being made to promote the development of aquaculture which is expected to improve domestic fish production, create additional jobs along the value chain and help reduce the over dependence on the marine fisheries resources. Major ongoing aquaculture initiative being implemented by the Ministry is the Flagship Programme “Aquaculture for Food and Jobs”, which I wish to promote in coastal areas ".

Mavis Hawa Koomson also called on the fish folks to adhere to the directive for the betterment of their work.

There were representatives from the National Fisheries Association of Ghana, Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council, Ghana Tuna Association, Ghana Industrial Trawlers Association and National Fish Processors and Traders Association.

Story by Samuel Thompson