Bentsir-Shama (W/R), July 9, GNA – A cross-section of fishermen within Shama and Sekondi/Takoradi Metropolis have attributed the continual depletion of marine sources to the unchecked exploitation by Chinese fishermen who operated on the country’s coastline.
The situation, they said, could also be attributed to “light fishing”, Chinese pair trawling, the use of hazardous chemicals and undersize nets used for fishing in the country’s waters.
They called on state agencies and all stakeholders to devise stringent and workable measures to halt these practices especially with the pair trawling concern to save the country’s marine fortunes.
These comments were in reactions to government proposal to ‘close the sea’ from August to early September to help cut down on the pressure on fish stock and enable them to procreate in attempt to ensure sustainable fishing.
Many of the fishermen the Ghana News Agency interviewed were unhappy with government’s decision to ‘close the sea’ and queried whether they would be given monies or something to compensate them for the proposed period that they were supposed to stay at home.
Agya Bassaw, the leader of “Kanfo Jehovah” vessel at Bentsir in the Shama District, said the activities of the Chinese has increased the number of days local fishermen had to spend on the sea before a good a catch, “Now we have to spent more than four to five days at sea before we can bring home any good catch to feed our families”.
He said the Chinese would use very tiny nets, catch all manner of smaller fishes and then throw them back into the sea after selecting what they wanted.
Questioned as to why these smaller fishes were not given to the local people by the Chinese, they said it may serve as a source of evidence for their prosecution, hence, the practice of throwing such quantities of fishes back into the sea.
Nana Kwesi Abakah and Kwame Essoun, Bentsir Landing Beach Committee elders, who collaborated with the assertions, called on government to rescind the decision adding, “We have no trade apart from this and how do we survive in this period”.
The stated concerns were no different at the New Takoradi and Sekondi beaches visited by the GNA.
Section 76 (3) and 84 of the Fisheries Act of 2002 (Act 625) gives the mandate to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture to inform all operators of industrial trawlers to adhere to the close season in the country.
This year, the sea may be closed to fishing activities to both industrial and artisanal fisher folks in August and would be lifted in the early part of September.
For his part, Mr Alex Sarbah the Western Regional Director of Fisheries, said there is no such thing as Chinese vessels but rather Ghanaian vessels owned in partnership with other foreigners.
He said such vessels carry Chinese inscriptions and are assumed by some to be solely owned by the Chinese.
He said the ministry has observers on large industrial fishing vessels to monitor them and this has resulted in the gradual reduction of the activities of pair trawling known as 'Seiko'.
Mr Sarbah said currently sea catch for herring was dwindling from 15000 to 10000 tonnes, adding that it was necessary to protect such fishes which lay thousands of eggs in one delivery.
"Senegal and Philippines among others countries have done this to protect their fish stocks", he added.