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Business News of Saturday, 24 October 2015

Source: GNA

‘We won’t buy illegal fish from fishermen’

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The National Fish Processors Traders Association (NFPTA) has declared that it would not patronise illegal fishes, which have been purchased by canoe fishermen from fishing vessels at sea.

Mrs Constance Mensah, the Western Regional Treasurer of the NFPTA, who was speaking at a stakeholders’ forum on Fisheries, held at Takoradi to find solutions to the dwindling fish catch across the country, said ‘their stance would discourage the practice, known as ‘Saiko’.

Saiko is the practice of fishing vessels using unauthorised and undersized nets to catch small fishes and arranging through their agents for canoe fishermen to buy them at seas.

Mrs Mensah said the practice was against the Fisheries Regulations and had also contributed largely to the poor catch phenomenon.

The two-day forum, which was on “Advocacy for Fisheries Enforcement and Compliance” was organised by Friends of the Nation (FON), a locally-based nongovernmental Organisation (NGO), which focuses on the environment with support from the BUSAC Fund.

It was attended by representatives of civil society organisations, the media, traditional rulers, fishermen, fishmongers, marine police, fisheries associations, and security personnel.

Mr Alex Sabbah, the Western Regional Director of the Fisheries Commission, in an interview, noted that, “This year’s fish catch has been worse as compared to last year’s”.

He said the Region recorded 57,316.69 tonnes of artisanal fish production in 2013 but this dropped to 43,958.51 tonnes in 2014.

Mr Sabbah, however, could not give the data from January to date, but said it was worst as the major fish season which was between July and September did not achieve better results.

The director attributed this to natural causes like Climate Change, other poor environmental conditions, bad human practices such as the use of lighting, chemicals, explosives and unauthorised fishing nets for fishing.

He said these unauthorised fishing nets and lighting tended to catch the young fishes that should be resting under the water to breed towards the following season.

Mr Sabbah said surprisingly those who traded in fish at sea found a way to market them but this was detrimental to the economic fish growth.

Mr Mike Abaka-Edu, a Marine Mechanic and former Executive member of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council, based at Axim, corroborated Mr Sabbah’s assertion and said, “This year, the trend had been that fishermen over here go to sea and come only with two head pans of herrings and mackerel”.

Mr Abaka-Edu, who is a canoe owner, said, “We had few catch last year and we were disturbed but this year’s situation has not been experienced before.”

The forum called for stringent measures that would discourage illegal fisheries practices in the sector to promote growth.