MV Multicat Odin, a dredging support vessel has rescued nine fishermen whose boats capsized at sea last Monday as a result of a severe storm near Tema New Town.
The fishermen were on a fishing expedition in three different canoes when their vessels hit rocks due to heavy tidal waves at different locations within the anchorage of the new Tema Port.
The storm and the resultant wreck threw them into the sea until the crew onboard the MV Multicat Odin, who were undertaking dredging works in the area, spotted them, pulled them out and brought them to shore.
Lartey Lamptey, Kwaku Acquah, Joseph Nartey, Tieko Tagoe and Kofi Tachie were all rescued by the Multicat team at different locations within the anchorage in an operation that lasted about two hours.
The rest are Daniel Okoe Dzikunu, Michael Copson, Patrick Panyin and Kweku Acquah. The storm resulted in the canoes breaking into two and damage to the three outboard motors and fishing nets.
The cost of each boat and outboard motor is estimated at GH¢50,000.
The Safety Engineer on the MV Multicat Odin, Mr Cheng Chong, told the media in Tema that the safety team, while on its regular monitoring, raised an alarm of a strife within the anchorage of the new port.
“We, therefore, deployed a tug boat to the area where the men were trapped and rescued them,” he said.
The team, he said, administered first aid on the fishermen, after which they were conveyed to health facilities for medical checks before being handed over to security officials of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA).
The three fishing boats, he said, were badly damaged and officials were unable to salvage them.
Recounting their experiences, the fishermen told the Daily Graphic that they had studied the weather prior to the expedition.
Mr Copson indicated that the team, having undertaken activities in the same area previously, were aware of the dangers.
“We are always cautious. We have learnt to make good use of the radio to be abreast of weather forecasts for our own safety, but on that particular day, we were taken by surprise by the heavy storm while we were at sea,” he stated.
The damage of their tools, he said, meant that they had lost their livelihoods and were already feeling the effects of economic hardships.
“After our rescue, officials from the Fisheries Commission came to take our statement and also ascertained the situation. We had hoped that they would get back to us, but till date we have not heard anything from them,” Mr Copson claimed.
He appealed to the government to go to the aid of the group to help them cater for their families, who he said were being affected by their present situation.
The Security Officer in charge of Intelligence at the GPHA, Sheikh Salifu Barry, urged the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development to intensify education for fishermen on the procurement of safer and more durable boats to aid their fishing activities.
He commended the MV Multicat Odin team for the rescue operation, which saw all nine men being brought out alive, saying the situation would have been disastrous without the team.
The Tema Metropolitan Chief Executive, Mr Felix Anang-La, commended officials of Multicat and Meridian Port Services (MPS) for the manner in which the victims were rescued.
The Chief Executive of the MPS, Mr Mohammed Samara, donated a set of fishing gear and an undisclosed amount of money to the fishermen to help them restart their careers.
The MPS, he said, remained committed to maintaining the highest standards of safety, especially where lives were concerned, adding: “It’s refreshing to have working partners who share the same values.”
He thanked the captain and the crew of the vessel for their timely intervention and for putting themselves at risk to prevent the loss of lives.
Mr Samara admonished the fisherfolk to always keep their life jackets on when they embarked on fishing expeditions.