Business News of 2013-12-08

British NGO joins fight against illegal fishing

Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), a United Kingdom based non- governmental organization, has joined the fight against illegal fishing particularly by foreign fishing vessels in Elmina waters.

Elmina’s marine waters had been identified by stakeholders in the fishing industry as having the highest illegal fishing practices including light fishing, pair trawling and others.

A day’s workshop was held at Elmina with the aim of presenting EJF’s plans for Elmina, learn about the work of other stakeholders and to collaboratively develop a community strategy for dealing with the issue.

The West African Coordinator of EJF, Mr. Max Schmidt, said EJF would help Elmina fishermen to clamp down on pirate fishing by ensuring that its community surveillance boats responded to calls from fishermen and other members of the fishing community who witnessed pirate fishing.

They will track the illegal vessel by taking photos, videos and GPS positions and identity and submit them to local government and European authorities for the appropriate sanctions of the vessels involved.

The sanctions are to ensure that the catch is not exported to the world‘s valuable seafood markets and that since 2010, EJF had documented 252 pirate fishing incidents reported over 23 communities in Sierra Leone.

Mr. Schmidt said EJF saw the need to extend the community surveillance model to Ghana especially Elmina because Ghana Government was more focused on Tema and Takoradi harbours, hence the increase in IUU fishing in Elmina.

He called for collaboration between the local people and opinion leaders once the Elmina office is active since they will need direct information from the local communities.

The Central Regional Director of Ghana Fisheries Commission, Mr. Papa Yaw Atobrah, appealed to fishing communities and committees to be cautious of documents presented by fishing vessels as permission to fish in some exclusion zones in Ghanaian territorial waters.

He said local fishermen were collaborating with the illegal vessels and urged fishermen to refrain from such habits and rather work hand in hand with the Commission and the marine law enforcers to halt the practice.

The Deputy Coordinating Director of KEEA Municipal Assembly, Mrs. Daphne Nyagorme who chaired the workshop, expressed delight that EJF had come to help Elmina and its surrounding fishing communities to fight against the numerous IUU fishing activities.

She called on the local people, especially canoe owners and fishermen, to cooperate with them to ensure that their work in the Region and Ghana as a whole would be successful. Some local fishermen of Elmina appealed to the EJF and the Fisheries Commission to educate and sensitize fishing committees before they involve them in gathering evidence to combat IUU fishing.

They also appealed to the Ministry to enforce the law banning unauthorized fishing nets in the country which they said contributed to illegal fishing. They it was important to disassociate issues relating to fishing from politics especially in Elmina as this was breeding corruption, backbiting, injustice and the polarization of fishing communities.

EJF works internationally to address environmental security and associated human right abuses with activities such as improving the transparency of the international fishing industry, documenting and preventing IUU fishing. It also works to safeguard food security of the coastal communities and protecting legitimate fishers that suffer unfair disadvantage.

Participants were drawn from the Central Regional Fisheries Commission, Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Department of the University of Cape Coast, the Komenda-Edina- Eguafo-Abrem Municipal Assembly, the Elmina fishing community and the general public.