The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mavis Hawa Koomson, has assured Parliament Ghana, through her outfit, would address all concerns raised against the state by the European Union (EU) on fisheries and aquaculture within 24 calendar months.
The Ministry, she said, after sorting Cabinet’s approval to draft a new fisheries act to meet all international obligations, has also been advised to review the Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy 2008 to form the basis of the review of the current fisheries law.
She noted that the Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy Law 2021 was validated by stakeholders on the 4th November, 2021, and would be submitted to Cabinet for approval and gazette for implementation in 2022.
The Minister said these on the floor of Parliament when the Majority Leader and Member of Parliament for Efutu, Alexander Kwamena Afenyo-Markin asked her about the critical measures being implemented following the second warning issued by the European Union for Ghana to definitively check illegal and unregulated fishing activities within its economic zone.
This comes at the back of the European Union warning that Ghana could be issued a Yellow Card for being identified as a non-compliant country in the fight against illegal, unreported and regulated fishery.
The issues raised against Ghana, according to the Minister, include the witnesses in the fisheries law, outdated marine management plan, non-implementation of the closed season, illegal transhipment at sea, (Saiko), weak enforcement of vessels sighted for infractions among others.
The Fisheries Minister assured Parliament that Ghana has plans to address all concerns within 24 months.
She noted that stakeholder consultations are ongoing on some of these concerns raised by the EU including the Marine fisheries management plan 2021-2026.
“Mr. Speaker, the last engagement was held with civil society organizations and academia in October 2021. A new national plan of action (NPOA) on IUU fishing 2021-2025, which is being implemented by the Fisheries Commission, was deposited with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nation on 5th May, 2021,” she stated.
According to the Minister, some actions taken by the Ministry as part of implementing the NPOA include placing observers on all industrial vessels during the expedition; a closed season for all fleets in 2021 was generally successful; tuna flakes from the 1st of January to 1st of March 2021; Industrial trawlers, from 1st July to 31st August 2021 and Semi industrial and artisanal from 1st to 31st July, 2021.
She revealed that they have increased the sensitization of fishers, both industrial and artisanal on the Fisheries laws and regulations in coastal fishing communities.
Fisheries Enforcement Unit (FEU) has also intensified sea inspection and beach camping operations to monitor compliance to fisheries laws and regulations.
The Awutu Senya MP also hinted of some arrests and seizures of illegal equipment used in fishing activities along the Central Region coastal towns of Ada, Moree, Abandze, Debu, Saltpong, Komanda Abuase and Shama that led to the suspension of premix fuel supply to these communities for a certain period as a deterrent measure.
She stated that with industrial fishing, license conditions have been reviewed to ensure that vessels with instructions and fines are paid up before the licenses are renewed. And there is also Cabinet approval to purchase a patrol boat and research vessel to strengthen visibility at sea and data collection for decision making and planning purposes.
“Mr. Speaker, issues with the vessel monitoring system and the automatic identification system have been rectified and are operational and vessel activities are strictly monitored for compliance.”
“Fisheries Commission staff certification unit receives regular training from the EU. A training on compliance with the EU certification process was organized from 7th – 8th June, 2021. The Ministry has increased collaboration with the Ghana Navy, the Marine Police and other security agents in the fisheries enforcement unit to monitor and arrest fisheries offenders for prosecution.”
The report of action by the ministry was submitted to the EU dialogue team on the 11th November, 202,” she added.