Regional News Wed, 7 Jan 2004

Imminent Disaster on High Seas As Canoe Fishermen Bare Teeth

An in-depth investigation carried out by this reporter at some fish landing beaches within the Greater Accra Region has revealed an imminent plan by some aggrieved traditional canoe fishermen to engage their in-shore trawler fishing counterparts in an open fight on the high seas.

Even though the spontaneity of the canoe fishermen who will be participating in the planned high sea fight cannot be immediately predicted, it is feared that the action may have disastrous consequences leading to the destruction of property and loss of lives on the high seas if the Minister for Fisheries, Mr. Eddie Akita, does not take immediate steps to prevent the clash.

According to some aggrieved canoe fishermen who spoke to this reporter on condition of anonymity during the investigation, the cause of the planned high sea confrontation is the introduction into the fishing business of fish-aggregating lights as well as the use of dynamites and carbide by the inshore fishing trawlers.

Whilst a spokesman for the in-show trawler fishing operators maintained that the use of the devices help them to catch more fish to feed the nation1the practices the canoe fishermen on the other hand claim, is having an adverse effect on their fish catch thus depriving them off their means of livelihood.

Some of the canoe fishermen are presently not going to sea due to the operations of the device users.

The canoe fishermen stated that they had made several appeals to the authorities but so far nothing had been done to reverse the situation, hence the planned do-and-die action.

Nevertheless, in what can be described as a timely move that can help avert the planned action, chief fishermen from a number of fishing communities within the Greater Accra Region, had at a meeting they held at the Head Office of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council in Accra on Tuesday December 30, last year, made a strong presentation to the executive secretary of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council, Nii Abeo Kyerekuandah IV, to send a high-powered delegation to dialogue with the government in order to compel the in-shore fishing trawlers to stop the use of the illegal fishing devices.

Nii Abeo Kyerekuandah, who was flail of praise to the chief fishermen for bringing their grievances to the notice of the council, appealed to all canoe fishermen along the country's coast to remain peaceful, united and be committed to the course of the council ever than before in the new year 2004.

The issue of the fish aggregating light in particular as well as all other unauthorised forms of fishing and the related problems, the executive secretary assured, will be taken up seriously with the government and the appropriate authorities to ensure sanity in the canoe fishing industry.

In their contribution at the meeting four chief fishermen Nii Armafio III of Asene, Ga Mashie, Nii Adjieteb Mator III of Tema, Nii Asase Ayittey I of Kokrobite and Nii Djom Adamah of Bortianor decried the use of the fish aggregating light adding that the continuous use of the device is of disturbing concern to all the canoe fishermen in their respective fishing communities.

The fishermen also complained about the present quality of pre-mix fuel, which they alleged is damaging their outboard motors adding that TOR should do the best to correct the anomaly.

The fish aggregating light is a single bulb electrical lighting device, which is used to attract fishes from any depth and in calculating distances in the sea and is manufactured by some technicians at the Tent Boat Yard. A pair of the device is sold at ?1.5 million.

Meanwhile, the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council had on Monday December 22, last year, donated an amount of ?2 million and four basketfulls of smoked fish to the Osu Children's Home for the upkeep of the inmates.

This is the third time the council on behalf of chief fishermen of Ghana had made such a donation to the home. Nii Abeo Kyerekuaatah wished all canoe fishermen a prosperous New Year full of bumper catches.

Source: Chronicle