Fishermen Oppose 2019 Closed Season Timeline

A cross-section of fishermen

THE GHANA National Canoe Fishermen Council (GNCFC) has opposed the 15th May, 2019 to 15th June, 2019, timeline for this year’s fishing closed season.

After a year of disagreement on the implementation of the fishing closed season, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Elizabeth Afoley Quaye announced in April this year that Government and fishermen have finally reached an agreement on the implementation of the fishing closed season.

She had told journalists at the Information Ministry on April 11 that the agreement was reached after extensive consultations, the last of which took place in Tema where the consensus was reached.

According to her, from May 15 to June 15, 2019, inshore and small scale fishermen would be observing the closed season.

From August 1, to September 30, she stated that industrial fishermen would observe the closed season.

But the fishermen are disputing that any such meeting was held and agreement reached.

According to them, they have no problem with observing the closed season but that the timeline announced by the Minister was not favorable.

Executive Secretary of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council, Nii Abeo Kyerekuandah IV, addressing journalists on Thursday, May 2, 2019 in Accra, says “the point of controversy is the timeline.”

He told journalists that the Minister sought to throw dust into the public’s eye when she said a meeting was held where the fishermen men agreed to this year’s closed season timeline.

He challenged the Minister to produce by way of evidence, the record of proceedings of the said meeting including the names of stakeholders who attended the meeting in question.

According to him, “…Assuming for the purpose of argument, that the meeting referred to was a stakeholders’ meeting, in the true sense of the word, convened for the purpose of determining timelines for the close season, though we know for a fact that in essence it was not so, what do the conveners of that meeting have to show that it was a genuine stakeholders meeting.”

He added that “as far as we are concerned, the meeting referred to was a hoax, stage-managed to throw dust into people’s eyes.”

In 2018, Cabinet had to postpone the ban to this year following agitations from fishermen.

Last year’s closed season was supposed to be in place for one month, beginning from August 7 to September 4, 2018.

But the fishermen say “indeed the scientific indicators showed that any closed season declared and implemented before July would not yield or produce any impact of value and will, therefore, be absolutely useless, so to do.”

The Executive Secretary says “in July, the impact would be 20% or more which is obviously significant and valuable than the 5% or less to be achieved in May and June.”

Preferred Timeline

According to him, “the fishermen’s obvious choice, therefore, is 1st to 31st July, 2019 which is based on the best scientific evidence available and not 15th May, 2019, to 15th June, 2019 which has no scientific basis and therefore, will not produce the needed impact.”

BY Melvin Tarlue

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