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General News of Monday, 20 January 2003

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Ghana to monitor territorial waters electronically

THE government will come up with an electronic device to monitor the activities of fishing vessels in Ghanaian territorial waters.A Deputy Minister of Agriculture in charge of Fisheries, Mr Ishmael Ashietey in an interview stated that the persistent poaching of Ghanaian waters for fish and other fish life has led to the loss of millions of foreign exchange to the country.

He said it has become necessary for the government to come up with a monitoring plan that will ensure the reduction of poaching in the country's waters.Mr Ashitey said the lack of monitoring devices makes it almost impossible for the country to check the activities of these poachers. According to him, his ministry has come up with the V.H.S or vessel monitoring system device to take care of the activities of vessels involved in illegal activities .

He noted that the sensitive nature of the device will make it difficult for foreign vessels who poach to take things for granted.Under the new system, Mr Ashietey said, foreign vessels registered in the country will be fitted with “Blue Boxes” and that these boxes will have complementary monitoring screens to be planted at three strategic places along the country’s coastline.

He said the monitoring device has been designed to also take care of the vessels without the boxes.He said a foreign vessel is spotted immediately it enters our territorial waters and expressed optimism that with this monitoring device, Ghana's allegations about the persistent poaching in the country's waters can now be backed with evidence.

He said his office is working in collaboration with other units such as the Attorney General’s Department, the Ghana Navy, the Water Research Institute and the Ghana Airforce, to stem the tide of activities of porchers.