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Business News of Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Source: Eye on Port

Ghana Tuna Association laments high cost of doing business in local fisheries sector

The Secretary of the Ghana Tuna Association, Richster Nii Amarh Amarfio, has lamented that the local fisheries sector covering the industrial, semi-industrial and artisanal categories is confronted with a myriad of challenges threatening the industry’s survival.

Speaking on Eye on Port, the Secretary of the Tuna Association, who was addressing how to deal with illegal fishing amid threats of an EU ban said, success would be achieved by adopting a national practical cross-sector approach to tackle the operational issues confronting the local industry, which he described as a national security crisis.

Mr. Amarfio bemoaned that the high cost of doing business caused by high licensing fees, piracy threats and the consequent high cost of labour, among others have brought about massive decline in participation in industrial fishing.

According to him, this is leading to gradual extinction of the pole and line operations in particular.

He revealed that “of the twenty pole and line vessels, only 6 are currently working because they cannot meet the high cost of fishing particularly the license fees and that is what is reflecting in the low export figures. We have major challenges when it comes to the cost in fishing in Ghana.”

The Secretary of the Ghana Tuna Association added that open access for participation in the artisanal fishing sector has also led to an unacceptable canoe-fish stock ratio with fishermen deploying whatever means to compete and survive.

“We have about 14,000 canoes where we need about 9,000. That means an extra 5000 canoes per the statistics of the Fisheries Commission. That means if you have an average of 10 people per canoe, that translates to 50,000 extra hands in the fishing industry. They would have to apply every means to survive since the fish stock is declining,” he elaborated.

Mr. Amarfio suggested that the problem of overcapacity can be solved by strategizing to introduce a reasonable pension scheme to retire the aged as well put the underaged in school.

He opined that the nonregulation of the artisanal and semi-industrial sector, and ineffectiveness of the Fisheries Commission in research and trawl gear audit is making it difficult to experience sustainable fishing practices in Ghana.

Mr. Amarfio recommended a regulatory regime that would have the artisanal, semi-industrial and industrial categories fish in specific species of fishes.

The Secretary of the Ghana Tuna Association also attributed the failure to harness the advantages of the inland water fish resource to degradable human activities.

He said, for the local producers of tuna to adequately permeate the local market as opposed to imported tuna, the downstream supply value chain would have to be developed properly.

“If we have proper processing system, where fish could be smoked and vacuum packed, shelf life will be increased so people could easily access them like they do, canned fish. Research on this should be ongoing.”

Richster Nii Armah Amarfio called for increased inclusion of fishermen in ongoing dialogues between Ghana and the EU and further called for participation of the Ministry of Trade as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.