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Fishing in Ghana Fish stocks are severely depleted, NGO warns

Addressing a Business Advocacy Forum organized under the auspices of the BUSAC Fund , Kofi Agbogah, Director of Hen Mpoano said "We are on a steep decline so there is need to put in place structures that would ensure that we get fish back into the sea."

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Hen Mpoano, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), is warning of depletion in fish stock in both marine and freshwater bodies, urging for structures to be put in place to save the situation.

Addressing a Business Advocacy Forum organised under the auspices of the BUSAC Fund, Kofi Agbogah, Director of Hen Mpoano said Ghana is “on a steep decline so there is need to put in place structures that would ensure that we get fish back into the sea."

“We are in a serious situation because data available shows that fishermen are catching less than 20,000 tonnes a year, and our historical maximum has been 120,000 and 130,000 tonnes a year. If your yield at a particular time is less than 10 percent of the historical maximum that means that the resources are depleting. This also means that we are in crisis so we need to take some steps,” he said.

Agbogah said the nation is still harvesting the same quantity of fish it was harvesting 50 and 60 years ago -  about four million fish a year due to various unregulated means used to catch fish.

"So there is a problem. The legal regime allows for anybody to go to sea. Unlike a licence to drive, it is not the same for fisheries. Everyone is racing to catch the last fish,” he said.

To salvage what is left of the fish industry,Agbogah is calling for a strict enforcement of the laws governing the fisheries sector.

According to him,“90 percent of the infractions of the laws happen on land before they go to see”.

“We are in talks with some chief fishermen and stakeholders to form citizen vigilante groups, so that they become our eyes and ears over there.  When they see any infractions, they can either call or text us," he said.

He added that his outfit is working with some communities to sensitize them on the need to use sustainable fishing methods and make them realise that if they are destroy the fishery resources, they will destroy their lives.

Godfrey Baidoo-Tsib, Director of Monitoring Control Surveillance Division, Fisheries Commission, noted that the commission is looking at reducing the number of fishing days for industrial fleets.

“Fishermen must set aside another day in addition to Tuesdays for non-fishing. We are looking at closed seasons where nobody will go fishing,” he said.

In a move to bring sanity into the fishery sector, the Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Minister, Ms Sherry Ayittey, in January 2016 asked the ministry's unit in charge of monitoring the activities of illegal trawlers in the fishing industry to weed out miscreants whose operations in the sector are fast depleting fish stock.

She said: "The law says don't fish for juveniles, what are the juveniles? They are the tiny fish that will grow to become the big fish. So if you sweep everything from the bottom of the ocean, there'll be nothing and the law empowers the enforcement unit to ensure that you don't take the juveniles."

The fisheries ministry is also considering new methods and technology in fishing including reducing the month stay of trawlers to three months

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