Business News of 2014-06-06

Government to sanitise fishing industry

The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mr. Nayon Bilijo, said government will not allow some few people to jeopardise efforts to sanitise the industry.
“The Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU) in Ghana is a thing of the past and there is absolutely no room for bad actors in Ghanaian fisheries,” he said at a press conference in Accra on Tuesday.
The press conference was on the looming challenge of blockage of Ghana’s fish consignment to the European Union Market, its sustainability to the country’s fisheries resources, and the measures taken to stem the tide.
He said the Ministry has issued new conditions for licences, including cancelling the licence of any vessel caught engaging in IUU fishing, and noted that this is in line to sustain Ghana’s fisheries resources which provide several millions in export earnings, employment and food security for Ghanaians.
Mr. Bilijo reiterated the looming challenges of the blockade of fish consignments, worth millions of euro, from Ghana into some countries in the European Union on suspicion of them being IUU contaminated.
The IUU takes the form of fishing without licence in Ghana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), fishing in the EEZ of other coastal states without permit, and transhipment at sea, he said.
According to him, the IUU fishing concerns resulted in a formal notification by the European Commission to Ghana on November 26, 2013, that Ghana could be identified as non-compliant third party, pursuant to Council Regulation establishing a Community System to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing.
Ghana and the European Commission, he said, have been engaged in a dialogue process with regard to a range of corrective actions required to be taken by Ghana to meet obligations as a trading partner of EC.
These corrective actions include enhancing the fisheries legislature framework, adopting a National Plan of Action against IUU fishing, adopting a system of dissuasive sanctions, adopting a fishery management plan, and strengthening the monitoring, control and surveillance system.
“We have embarked on strengthening the fisheries legislature to combat IUU fishing in all its forms,” the Minister said.
“The reform will see us adopting new regulations by the end of 2014, which will among other things impose severe sanctions on IUU fishers and repeat offenders.”
The Ministry has also introduced new control measures on Ghanaian-flagged vessels that intend to fish in neighbouring countries, strengthened inspection of fisheries vessels that arrive in the ports, and streamlined the issuance of fisheries export catch certificates to bring more transparency and integrity into the system.
‘’We have also mandated the use of a satellite vessel-monitoring system, mandatory for all semi-industrial and industrial Ghanaian fishing vessels, including trawlers,’’ he added.
He noted that all tuna fishing vessels are already equipped with Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), and thatGhana is expecting to complete the installation of VMs on all trawlers by the end of June 2014.
After that date, he said, no Ghanaian semi-industrial and industrial trawlers will be issued with a licence to fish without a VMS.
The Ministry has also adopted a National Plan of Action to combat IUU fishing, and a Regional Plan of Action under the auspices of the Fisheries Committee of the West and Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC).
He announced that a recent dialogue with the European Commission (EC), which took place on May 13, 2014, went well, and that the European Union expressed satisfaction with Ghana’s progress so far; adding that there were however still a number of important things to be done.
This notwithstanding, the EC, he said, has made it clear that a single incident of IUU fishing by a Ghana-flagged vessel -- be it a tuna fishing vessel or a trawler vessel -- would see the end of the dialogue process and consequently a total ban on Ghanaian fisheries products in the EU and possibly other countries outside the EU.