This implies that foreign interests, especially from China, are dominant in Ghana’s industrial trawl sector, which is illegal.

But the public is not aware of the beneficial owner since it is not made public. It is only the name of the Ghanaian licence holder that is published in the list of licensed trawlers on the Ministry of Fisheries’ website.

The report said the Ghanaian government must put some transparency measures in place to ensure all stakeholders abide by the laws.

The report said the measures must include the publication of an annual report which will provide a detailed and up-to-date assessment of progress toward implementation of the 2015-2019 Fisheries Management Plan and the mandatory publication of a five-year fisheries management plan based on best available scientific evidence in the future fisheries law.

“Others are the publication of licensing conditions for vessels fishing in the Ghanaian EEZ, including the number of allocated fishing days per vessel; the publication of the updated register of vessels flagged to Ghana, including key data such as vessel name [and] tonnage; the expansion of developments under the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative with regard to transparency of information on beneficial ownership to the fisheries sector and the strict enforcement of the prohibition against Saiko (a Chinese shipping vessel).”

A recent study indicated that about 100,000 metric tonnes of fish were traded through Saiko in 2017. This had an estimated landed value of US$34-65 million.

The report said: “Despite being prohibited under the 2010 Fisheries Regulations, a low-risk of arrest and sanction has meant that Saiko has been on the increase in recent years. In 2017, 62 Saiko canoes were recorded operating out of Elmina port, more than double the number of canoes counted in 2015.”

“Concealment of beneficial ownership is problematic for a number of reasons. Critically, where illegalities are present, it may not be possible to hold the true beneficiaries to account for their illegal practices and sanction them accordingly,” it added.

The report, therefore, called on the government to strictly enforce the prohibition against Saiko.