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Ghanaian fishermen livid about fishing ban decision

By Alex Osei-Boateng ACCRA (Xinhua) -- The Ghanaian government’s decision to institute a month-long ban on fishing has angered some fisher folks in Ghana’s coastal cities of Elmina, Moree and Cape Coast.

The closed season announced by Minister for Fisheries Elizabeth Afoley Quaye last Friday forms part of the government’s new measures to reverse an alarming decline in marine fish stock in the country’s territorial waters.

According to the minister, the closed season for marine fishing, which will be observed yearly, will permit for uninterrupted breeding to increase the fish stock for Ghanaian fishermen.

A person who engages in fishing during the closed season commits an offense and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than 500,000 U.S. dollars and not more than 2 million dollars in respect of local industrial or semi-industrial vessels.

Fishing will, however, resume in September.

Even though some fishermen in Ghana have welcomed the declaration, others, especially in the southeastern part of the country, are livid, saying the move would impoverish them.

The locals said the ministry’s action would worsen their already difficult financial situation, calling on the government not to enforce the decision.

“The month of August is the bumper season and they see it as wrong for the government to place a ban on fishing activities during the period,” Francis Eshun, leader of the local Ghana Inshore Fisheries Association, told local media in Accra.

Agya Badu, a fisherman, said no local fisherman would gladly accept notice that they should not work during the period.

“We are not kicking against the closed season but the session is what we are not agreeing to. We are appealing to the government to change the implementation period,” Badu told Joy Fm, a local radio station in Accra.

The acting president of the National Canoe Fishermen Council, Nana Joojo Solomon, appealed to the government to put mitigation arrangements in place to support the affected people.

“For us, it is not business; it is a source of livelihoods,” he said.

Afoley Quaye, the fisheries minister, had earlier said lots of pregnant fishes were caught during this season, thus reducing the spawning potential for the following year and contributing to the rapid decline in the ocean fish stock.

“When we do so, we are eating our chicks before they are born,” the minister said. “This is what we have been doing to our small pelagic fish stock over the years, using many illegal forms of fishing.” 

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