The Fisheries Enforcement Unit from Takoradi has impounded several Saeko fish vessels at Apam.
The Saeko vessels are involved in transshipment procedures where bigger vessels at high seas transfer fish into a smaller canoe that has no fishing gear. The fish that are transshipped are mostly fish that are below the approved size and iced by trawlers.
The government recently postponed the implementation of a closed season which scientists believed was one of the measures aimed at reversing the dwindling fish stock in Ghana. But the fishermen raised concerns about government’s inability to clamp down on illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing practices.
A member of the fisheries enforcement unit, Daniel Awuku Nyanteh speaking to Ghanaweb disclosed that the transshipment is illegal as it violates section 132 of the Fishing Act 625.
“Some shipments are illegal, in the course of our patrols, we came to Apam beach and we intercepted a canoe vessel that has not got any fishing gear on board. They have a lot of fish in it and this indicates that the canoe vessel went to transfer the fish from a vessel at high seas. The law is saying that transshipment without any officer on board a vessel is illegal, for that reason, a vessel without a fishing gear has no right to go and take fish from another vessel at sea so they have committed an offence per Section 132 of the fishing Act 2002, Act 625”.
He noted that the police have been notified and the culprits are being processed for prosecution.
“Generally you know when you intercept a vessel of that nature, people will come around but we don’t give room to people to circumvent the law so we are working, so far, there is not any serious interference. The law is going to take its course. We have reported the case to the police at Apam, from there, it’s likely we’ll transfer the case to Tema for the necessary prosecution”.
One of the fishermen involved in the illegal transshipment processes, Mustapha however justified the procedure, maintaining that government ought to legalise it since it is what most fishermen in the country depend on for their livelihoods.
“If government wants to stop this work, Ghana will go down. This Saeko job is what everyone in the country depends on for fish, in all the regions. We are not all educated, government must put in other measures like directing which nets shouldn’t be used and which should be at sea rather than stopping the entire Saeko business”, he stated.