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Fisherfolk want closed season moved to March-May

Fishermen within the Tema enclave have called for a change in the time period scheduled for the closed fishing season in the country.

According to the Asafoatse of the Tema Traditional Council, Nii Kakra Dawu who is also the chief fisherman at Tema New Town, the period slated for the closed season is rather the time for bumper harvest in the country.

Nii Kakra Dawu

The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) set July 1 – July 31, 2022, as the closed season for artisanal and semi-industrial fishers while industrial fishers are, however, to observe the closed season from August 1 to August 31, 2022.

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The closed season, which is in accordance with section 84 of the Fisheries Act, 2002, Act 625, is aimed at reducing fishing pressure on stocks when they are most productive and averting depleting fish stock of the country’s maritime space.

However, the fishermen have disputed the time scheduled for closure.

“The fishing season ranges from July, August to September. I, therefore, cannot think far that the season in which fisherfolk would have a bountiful catch is when you have made the closed fishing season”, he lamented.

Nii Kakra Dawu, who owns a vessel, described the action of the Ministry as “a big punishment” to the fishing communities.

In his view, the closed season which prohibits fishing should be changed to March, April and perhaps extended to May, the time they believe the fishes reproduce contrary to MoFA’s July to August period.

He explained that the practice, since 40 years ago, has always been that in March and April canoe owners drag their canoes to shore for maintenance. They also repair their worn and torn nets and prepare for the fishing season which begins in July. But even in the Western Region fishermen start in June.

The fishermen noted that the ministry adopted the July to August dates based on what is happening in Denmark and Greece but in Ghana things are different so they should conduct local research which is suitable to Ghana.

Sale of premix fuel

He also expressed concerns over the sale of premix fuel to persons not dealing in fishing while fishermen bear the brunt of fuel scarcity.

He accused authorities in charge of the premix distribution of sidelining fishermen and giving the fuel to people he described as ‘businessmen’, who later sell the premix at exorbitant prices to the fishermen.

He lamented that due to the hike in fuel prices, the fishermen cannot afford an alternative thus compelling them to buy the expensive premix from these middlemen.

“The premix is not forthcoming and the little that comes becomes a problem. The known-canoe fishermen who need the premix for fishing don’t get the fuel but rather persons who don’t have canoes are given the fuel to do business. These persons resell the premix to the fishermen at higher prices when it should have gone to them straight away”, he complained on Angel FM’s Anopa Bofo Morning Show.

He explained that “When you see a 100 gallons queuing for premix, 50% of those who are canoe owners and are fishermen in need of the fuel for fishing wouldn’t get it. Of the remaining 50%, only 25% who are canoe owners and fishermen would receive the premix for work. The remaining 25% are neither fishermen nor canoe owners but would get the premix to resell. This has been normalized and creates a shortage forcing fishermen to buy from those businessmen [or risk staying at home]”.

Beyond the premix challenges, he accused deep sea fishing vessels of diverting into their trade, therefore, reducing their catch these days.

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