Fishermen at Axim in the Nzema East Municipality of the Western Region, are calling on the government to provide alternative sources of livelihood for the local fishing economy.
This according to them will help reduce the dependence on the dwindling fishing business.
Plight of fishermen Fishermen at Axim and other coastal areas in the country, have been hit by low fish catch, low supply of premix fuel occasioned by smuggling of the product and the high cost of fishing equipment.
These problems are compounded by bad fishing practices such as pair trawling, light for fishing and other chemicals for fishing.
The effect of these problems have been low fish stock and polluted marine environment. It has also given rise to unemployment and other social vices in some fishing communities. Other problems are that, fish prices at the beaches have risen astronomically.
Fishmongers have had to fight over the little catch that are brought by fishermen. Speaking to Citi News, the fisher folk at Axim suggested that the solution to the problem would be the provision of other job opportunities in their communities for the youth.
“Life in Axim now is unbearable. The fishing business is dwindling by the day. We fight over the little catch in order to survive.
Many of our youths are unemployed. As a result, some have resorted to thievery. They steal soup, they steal Fufu. They steal fish on fire.
We are pleading with the government to provide jobs and to diversify our economy,” one fishmonger narrated. Hoarding of premix fuel For fishing communities such as Axim and Dixcove, there are over 600 fishing boats and canoes of different sizes in each community.
Each fishing expedition requires at least one drum of premix fuel. But currently, a premix fuel tanker made up of 60 drums of the commodity is supplied every week to these landing beaches. Citi News’ checks at some depots in Axim and Dixcove showed that, about 20 drums from the 60 are given to members of the landing beach committees.
Some other unspecified quantities are sold to persons who are not fishermen. The remaining is then sold to the several hundreds of fishermen in queues.
As a result of the huge deficit, some fishermen resort to buying from those quantities which were given to the executives at inflated prices. Officially, a drum of premix fuel is sold at GH375, but “those who hoard the product sell it to us at GHc600 or sometimes GHc800” a fisherman lamented.
Politicization of premix fuel sale Some fishermen who spoke to Citi News alleged that the premix committee members sell the product to their party colleagues who are loyalists of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).
At Dixcove in the Ahanta West District, some fishermen accused the leadership who are members of the Landing Beach Committee of allocating some percentage of the product to fund activities of the party.
They alleged that those who the premix committee sells the product to, are not fishermen, but act as middlemen who trade the commodity at higher prices to fund the party. “When you ask, they will tell you this quantity is for that person.
That belongs to that man. That also belongs to a Unit Committee Member and a whole lot. We are told it is the proceeds from this fuel that they use to fund the NDC party here. We don’t understand what is happening here,” one fisherman told Citi News at Dixcove.
Social vices occasioned by dwindling fish catch Fishmongers who ply their trade along the beaches complained to Citi News that, the dwindling fortunes of fishing has led to an increase in thievery among the youth in Axim. “They steal soup.
They steal fish on fire, head pans, phones and anything that come their way. When they steal your phone, they sell them at cheaper prices elsewhere. We are unable to have good night sleep because, if you dare do, your precious belongings may be stolen in the night,” Some fishmongers told Citi News at Axim.
Government’s supply of outboard motors not the solution President John Dramani Mahama during a recent visit to the Western Region, promised fishermen in the country that his government is procuring over 1,000 outboard motors for them.
He also mentioned they will supply fishing nets and other fishing inputs in his government’s attempt to solve the numerous problems facing fishermen. But a member of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council, Mike Abaka Aidoo, noted that, the supply of the fishing inputs will not solve the problems they face.
He opined that “the problem facing the fishing industry is one which has to do with the dwindling fish stock in the sea and the pollution in the marine environment. The first step is to work at improving the stock in the sea by checking pair trawling, light for fishing, the use of monofilament nets and other harmful chemicals used for fishing.
That is the first step”. He also questioned the rational for the supply of the outboard motors saying “how will fishermen pay back the GH97,000 cost for the outboard motors when there are no fishes in the sea to catch. Our attention should be on the marine environment and later we look at how to catch the fish when there is enough in the sea.”