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Aquaculture Fisheries sector needs seasonal closures to replenish stock – USAID

The total landings of small pelagics (anchovies, sardinellas, mackerels and horse mackerel) have decreased from 277,000 metric tonnes in 1996 to about 92,000 to metric tonnes in 2011.

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Stakeholders in the fisheries industry have been urged to consider pushing for a seasonal closure on fishing for small pelagic, to help solve the country's fisheries crises.

The total landings of small pelagics (anchovies, sardinellas, mackerels and horse mackerel) have decreased from 277,000 metric tonnes in 1996 to about 92,000 to metric tonnes in 2011.

Mr Kofi Agbogah, National Programme Manager for the USAID/Ghana Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP), said seasonal closure is the quickest way to sustain the fish stock in the country's coastal waters.

Mr Agbogah said a seasonal closure is a period when a ban is placed on fishing activities in respect to a type of fish, area and zones, method of capture or any parameters specified in notice of closure.

He made the suggestion on Tuesday during the Greater Accra Regional Fisheries Stakeholders Meeting on the SFMP held in Tema.

He explained that a closure in Ghana could be done during and immediately after the peak spawning season, which is mainly between July and September.

Mr Agbogah noted that the closed season would provide fish protection to complete spawning, which would allow for significant production of abundant offspring for the following year.

He said without the closure, fishermen would continue to fish throughout the year even when the fishes are laying eggs, indicating that each female fish could produce between 20,000 to 50,000 eggs.

Mr Agbogah stated that the closure is possible in Ghana as other countries including Philippines have engaged in similar ventures to revive their fisheries sector.

According to him, the fisheries crises in Ghana, is worrying and if nothing concrete is done the sector would virtually collapsed as having less than 10 per cent of the historical stick meant the sector has collapsed.

He mentioned that the USAID and World Bank are supporting the country with 24 million dollars and 53 million dollars to enable stakeholder dialogue to find the best solution to the current fishing crises.

Mr Kyei Kwadwo Yamoah, Programme Manager of Friends of the Nation, an implementing partner of the SFMP, said the meeting was to engage stakeholders on optional methods to revive the fisheries sector.

Mr Yamoah said the options include the seasonal closure, increased mesh size, adding to fishing holidays, limit number of boats, removal of subsidies and territorial use rugs, among others.

He noted that similar meetings have been held in the Western and Central Regions with Volta Region to follow after which a national dialogue would be held to finalise the discussions and decisions.

Some participants called for proper implementation of fisheries laws and regulations.

They also urged the numerous associations in the sector to desist from blaming each other for the failing sector but should rather resolve to observe good practices.

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GNA

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