Fishermen at the James Town beach in Accra are lamenting over the declining fish stock in Ghana’s territorial waters due to illegal fishing methods as well as the changing weather pattern.
The assertion follows a recent report of a sharp drop in the fish stock along Ghana’s coastline, threatening the growth of the fisheries sub-sector. A fisherman at the James Town beach who gave his name as Adjei complained about illegal fishing methods used by people he alleges are Chinese nationals in Ghana’s territorial waters.
Illegal fishing methods
Adjei and his brother tell Citi Business News the Chinese nationals use huge fishing vessels and light to fish, killing even the fingerlings due to the heat the light produces.
“They use big vessels and illegal fishing methods. The light they use is so bright that you could see it miles away in the sea. It’s a bad fishing method. It attracts the fish but it also kills every living organism in that area due to the heat it generates” he said.
According to him, the heat produced from the light is so intense such that the area is always warm even hours after the vessels have left.
Nii Kwaku Tawiah, a chief fisherman at James town, who spoke to Citi Business News also lamented about the declining fish stock due to the illegal fishing methods.
He pointed out that some of the fishermen use illegal fishing nets which poses danger to fish and other living organisms.
“Most of our colleagues also use illegal fishing nets. The Chinese vessels and the light fishing are the biggest problem but we know some people use illegal nets. We monitor them and if they are caught we hand them over to the appropriate authorities”
He added that the changes in the weather may have also contributed to the decline in the fish stock. According to him, months like August, September October and December use to produce good fish but the situation has been different in recent times.
“In the past, we don’t have to go far into the deep, particularly during and after the Homowo festival but the situation is different now. We are in October and the catch is not encouraged. Can you imagine since dawn, this few fish is my catch?”, he said lifting a basket containing some fish.
Research on declining fish stock
A research released last month, conducted by Professor Aggrey Fynn of the University of Cape Coast’s Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences warned that Ghana should brace itself for a further decline in the fish stock as the water temperature rises.
“Fishes are also living organisms just like us so as the temperature rises they will begin to feel uncomfortable in their environment, so if they have the opportunity to move they will move to where temperature is okay for them otherwise they will do. Climate change is going to cause a lot of fish species to move out of their natural habitat”.
He disclosed that the study showed that the changing weather pattern which is caused by climate change is gradually changing the temperature of some parts of the sea hence migration of the fish.
New law for fishing industry
Meanwhile, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Elizabeth Afoley Quaye has said that Ghana’s fishing law is currently under review and is expected to be operational within the first quarter of 2018.
In an interview with Citi Business News at the sidelines of this year’s World Ocean Day celebration, Madam Quaye said the amended law will help sanitize the fishing industry once approved by Parliament.
“The fisher law is in bits and pieces, with the amendments, LIs and the rest so we have found it necessary to put together all the laws into one, we are also seeing a lot of other amendments that we need to do so we are capturing all this into one and we are almost done,” she said.
“So by December this year the draft will be out and then we will be taken through stakeholder consultations by early 2018 the draft bill will go to parliament and then it will be passed,” she assured.