Friends of Nation calls for stiffer fisheries laws
Friends of the Nation (FoN), a socio-environmental research and advocacy non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Takoradi in the Western Region, has challenged the government to enact laws on fisheries, especially illegal fishing activities, which infraction should attract stiff punishment to deter others from engaging in same.
It has been argued that those who violate fisheries laws and regulations do not only harm the resources and put the economy at risk, but are also unfair to the majority of resource users who comply.
Programmes Manager of FoN, Kyei Kwadwo Yamoah, yesterday told the media during a briefing themed “Effective Fisheries Enforcement, the Voices of the Fishers and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)”, in Accra, that the laws should have no respect for whoever got involved in any illegal engagement.
“Those who abide by the laws deserve to know that others would be held to the same standards, and that the standards will be consistent nationwide,” he noted. Experience had made him appreciate the fact that businessmen in the industry, other than the artisanal, regularly violated the laws on fishing, but always found their ways out when caught, simply because they had the support of some men at the helm of affairs.
“For the achievement of effective results, selective enforcement should be avoided if possible, because communities’ perception of biases is amplified, as they see themselves as victims, but not perpetrators or breakers of the law,” he explained.
Key challenges confronting the fishing sector, for which punitive measures would have to be put in place to cure, Mr. Yamoah noted, included declining marine fisheries resources as a result of weak governance which had targeted over-capacity, conflicts and widespread illegal unreported and unregulated fishing, adding that “concerns have been raised over weak enforcement of fisheries laws and low compliance by fishers.”
He also made mention of widespread use of unsustainable and harmful fishing methods, contributing to over-fishing and degradation of the critical coastal fisheries habitats.
“It is against this background that Friends of the Nation (FoN), in collaboration with the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen’s Council, W/R, and with the support of the BUSAC Fund, is engaging stakeholders…to discuss key recommendations to addressing the challenges in fisheries governance in Ghana,” he remarked.
And, as part of the recommendations, the Civil Society Organisation suggested that deterrence, which is one of the two strategies to ensure compliance, would suffice. “Considering the Ghanaian situation, it would be appropriate to apply deterrence (measured enforcement of the law), and, to a large extent, employ the principle of voluntary compliance to reduce the high cost of enforcement,” Mr. Yamoah indicated.
Deterrence, as a technique, is expected to embrace conducting regular inspections of fishing vessels at landing sites and increasing at-sea patrols. It will also involve the application of proactive measures to decentralise the enforcement process by promoting collaborative fisheries management systems and the avoidance of selective enforcement.