The Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council has appealed to the Government to, as a matter of urgency, set up a body of fish scientists to carry out investigation into the trans-shipment of fish, also known as “Saiko”, on the high seas.
“SAIKO” is one of the deadliest fishing practices, which have been outlawed worldwide, and the Fisheries Law of Ghana, Act 625, also prohibits it.
“Unfortunately, however, in Ghana, it is still actively done in the Central and Western regions and it is causing inestimable havoc to Ghana’s fisheries because it emboldens the industrial trawlers to ‘steal’ the fish from the artisanal or small-scale fishermen,” Nii Abeo Kyerekuandah IV, the Executive Secretary of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council, said at a press conference on Thursday.
The Council held the conference to discuss the impending 2019 closed season for artisanal fishing, which had been scheduled for May 15 to June 15.
It said, however, that July 1 to 31 had been scientifically proven to yield more results when the closed season was observed.
On the Saiko issue, Nii Kyerekuandah said it was estimated that almost 100,000 metric tonnes of fish were landed illegally through the practice in 2017, causing a loss of about US$50 million in revenue to the state.
It is also estimated that only about 40 per cent of fish catch were landed legally by trawlers and duly reported to the Fisheries Commission whilst about 60 per cent were illegally landed by the trawlers in 2017.
He called on the Government to “examine thoroughly and holistically, Ghana’s Fishing Industry to find out and recommend what should be done to restore its viability and lost vibrancy”
Another pressing issue in the industry that needed urgent attention was the registration of the increasing fishing trawlers, which needed to be reduced in order to ease pressure on the fish stocks.
“We also wish to make a passionate appeal to you, the media practitioners, to take the gauntlet up, on behalf of the voiceless fishermen, by highlighting the bad fishing practices that affect the growth and sustainability of the fishing industry.
“It is about the livelihood of almost three million people in Ghana,” Nii Kyerekuandah said.