Accra, Nov. 6, GNA - Ms Elizabeth Naa Afoley Quaye, the Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, has launched a biodegradable Fish Aggregating Device (FADs) pilot study in Accra.
She said the Area Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) biodegradable FADs study, which was being coordinated by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), would help in addressing some of the challenges facing the fishing sector, and ensure sustainable management of oceans, seas and marines resources.
The launch on Monday, was witnessed by persons including Directors of the Fisheries Commission, as well as representatives of the Ghana Tuna Association, the ABNJ project Coordinators and some members of the fishing industry.
Ms Quaye explained that for centuries fishers have known that fish were attracted to and congregate around naturally occurring floating objects, and that by placing their own floating objects in the sea, the fish would aggregate around them making catching easier.
These man-made objects, she said, were known as FADs and they could be either drifting or anchored, and since these methods could improve fish catches, the study would be examining the merits of using anchored FAD programmes.
According to her, Ghana like other developing nations was confronted with challenges involving marine pollution, the destruction of its ecosystem, as well as illegal unreported and unregulated fishing activities among other things.
She said the adoption of the use of FADs by the local fishing sector since the 1990s for artisanal, commercial and industrial purposes, although might have had some positive impact, had been abused leading to several negative effects.
Ms Quaye said majority of these modern FADs entangle, wedge, trap or ensnare tuna, sharks and turtles and their use have raised several questions on its interaction with these species and their sustainability.
She said the health of the oceans had deteriorated as a result of poor planning, bad fishing practices and poor sanitation among other factor, which has gravely affected the marine resources.
She said micro plastics and other non-biodegradable materials continue to destroy fishes and large marine mammals not only in Ghana, but all over the Atlantic Ocean, citing also that the use of monofilament nets and their attendant resultant problems of ghost fishing after the active life of the net was just one issue all fisheries managers frowned upon.
In some areas this has raised concerns about the potential negative impacts on fisheries and the marine environment as they have led environmental and conservation groups to lobby for FAD-free caught tuna, particularly in industrial type tuna fisheries.
The Minister said the local tuna industry was one of the important areas of the fishery sector with a lot of promise for the future under the management of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) as it was important to all costal states.
Ms Quaye said the use of biodegradable FADs, which would not entangle fishes and create undue ecological imbalance in the environs, has been raised by both fishers and managers at large and it was believed that ICCAT was taking a giant step to ensure safe fishing and in an environmentally friendly manner.
She said it was expected that all contracting parties to the ICCAT used these biodegradable FADs by 2018, adding that the Ministry was very much concerned about the health of the oceans and other water bodies, and would support all endeavours to make them better for a clean blue economy.
She appealed to the tuna sector operators who were the major beneficiaries to see the use of these FADs as an important step to the sustainability of the fisheries industry, and urged that they pledged their total support to make the project successful.
She also asked that the findings from the study be widely shared.
Mr Kim Stobberup, the Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) Specialist with the FAO, said the five-year project would introduce new practices and methods among other things, to support the use of biodegradable FADs for both sustainable fishing and the environment.