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General News of Wednesday, 29 November 2000

Source: GNA

Fishing industry collapsing in Ghana

Ghana's Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture Mike Acheampong on Tuesday said irresponsible fishing practice is depleting fish stocks, describing it as a dangerous phenomenon for the country.

He said recent surveys conducted by the Fisheries Department in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Norwegian Fisheries, indicated that Ghana's fishing industry is on the verge of collapse because of bad fishing practice.

In a speech read for him at a day's seminar on Ghana's marine fisheries resources, the Deputy Minister said fishermen wrongly believe that the resources are inexhaustible. The seminar aims to update information about the level of fish stocks being over- exploited and to make recommendations for solution.

Acheampong said fish accounts for five per cent of the agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 10 per cent of the country's animal protein requirements, therefore the consequence of the failure of the industry can be disastrous to the economy.

"Apart from depriving 1.8 million Ghanaians (forming 10 per cent of the population) of their source of livelihood, it can also bring untold suffering to the populace." He said to bring the problem under control, government has instituted measures to monitor the fish stocks and prevent over-exploitation.

These include the sub-sector capacity-building project and management plan, and the establishment of the fisheries management operations committee to review the fisheries policy and management plan.

Acheampong said the Directorate of Fisheries would soon be empowered to implement the plan to enhance the management of stocks. He said it is wrong for fishermen to believe that fluctuations in yield are caused by natural phenomenon and not by their actions and therefore there should not be any government restriction or interference in fishing activities.

He expressed his appreciation to the FAO, the Large Marine Ecosystem and the Norwegian Fishing Industry for supporting the survey and urged participants to make good use of the information gathered.

Dr. K. A. Koranteng, a Director of the Fisheries Department who presented a paper on ''History of Marine Fisheries Resources- Trends and Variability'', said fishery surveys over the years identified illegal use of fishing gear like dynamites and small net sizes.

He said ineffective management control, lack of respect for fisheries laws and regulations and natural occurrences like warm temperatures, have all affected the operations of the industry