Ghana imported $135 million worth of fish last year due to the reduction in the country’s fish stock, Sherry Aryeetey, Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture, has stated.
Ms Aryeetey, who disclosed this during the commemoration of the 1st anniversary of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Accra recently, said Ghana’s fish stock has reduced because of the pollution of ocean with plastic materials which has gravely affected aquatic life five nautical miles offshore.
She also blamed the situation on the chronic challenges of over fishing, habitat change and pollution, which had affected fish breeding.
Because of the aforementioned, all tuna vessels had been put out of sea for two months to help build Ghana’s fish stock, she said, adding that small fishing trawlers would be out of sea in November to achieve the same objectives.
“Five vessels have so far been sanctioned after they were found to be fishing around the country’s buffer zone near her oil rigs. They were made to pay huge fines.
“Any vessel caught offloading fish on the high seas is a violation of marine laws and attracts $2 million. Those who are caught for the second time would pay $1 million.”
Ghana, currently, is able to produce 20,000 metric tons of fish annually although Ghanaians consume 950,000 metric tons of fish annually.
Waste disposal monitoring
In order to help the check the pollution of the ocean, she said her outfit was working with international organizations that are using satellite systems to monitor vessels that dispose of waste on the high seas and also fight illegal fishing.
Piracy and drug trafficking
“Piracy attracts very serious sanctions in our oceans. Pirates stop vessels on high seas and seize marine oils and other goods. Lately, oceans are being used for drug trafficking to Ghanaian villages.
“The drug lords have now resorted to using the sea routes for trafficking drugs after they realized that they were intercepted at the airports.”
A Norwegian research vessel, which was contracted to examine the beaches of Ghana from Aflao to Axim, found that due to new policies in place, Ghana’s fish resources were beginning to increase.
Ms Aryeetey added that her outfit was ready to insure about a million fishermen, adding that it was also planting coconut trees to prevent coastal erosion.
She urged NDPC to consider urban housing for communities along the coast.
She called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate mining companies so that cyanide and mercury would not be spilled into river bodies to negatively affect food security.
Fish contributes over $1 billion every year (4.2 percent) to Ghana’s gross domestic product and makes 60 percent contributions to animal protein consumption.
Between 1700 and 1800 when Fantes introduced fishing to Ghana, they extended fishing to Benin and Nigeria.
Ghanaian fishermen are currently found in most ECOWAS countries.
Ten percent of Ghanaians are engaged directly and indirectly in fishing.
Tony Mensah-Abrampam, Country Director of Praxis Africa, organizers of the event, urged the media to help educate Ghanaians on how to keep the ocean clean and help protect fish.