Some Axim fishermen
Some fishermen in the ancient fishing community of Axim in the Western Region have complained about the use of illegal fishing methods, particularly, monofilament fishing nets by some of their colleagues in their expeditions.
They indicated that using unapproved nets is illegal fishing method that the law frowns upon.
They have, therefore, appealed to the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) to penalise severely recalcitrant fishermen who refuse to use approved fishing nets in their activities.
“We believe that if those who engage in all forms of illegal fishing are punished severely when arrested, it will serve as a deterrent for other fishermen who engage in illegal fishing to desist from the act,” the fishermen pointed out.
Currently, when a fisherman engaged in illegal fishing is arrested, he is made to pay a fine that ranges from 50 penalty units to 200 penalty units. This translates to between GH¢600 to GH¢2,400.
However, speaking to DAILY GUIDE in an interview, Francis Kwofie Jnr., Secretary to the Canoe Owners in Axim was of the view that the fines are not deterrent enough, and that the charges should be increased.
He said all forms of illegal fishing required firm and stringent measures to curtail them.
“So I believe serious measures should be put in place to rescue the country’s depleting fisheries sector,” he emphasised.
He revealed that according to information he gathered, the use of unapproved nets alone in fishing is costing Ghana more than US$30million each year.
“Note that the amount is different from revenues lost to the use of unapproved chemicals and light-fishing among other illicit fishing methods,” he added.
“We have a responsibility to manage our fisheries resources for the benefit of our people and those yet unborn, and to ensure food security for the entire nation,” he stressed.
Kwofie Jnr also encouraged strong institutional coordination and right policies to halt illegal fishing activities which would in the long run help to reduce coastal poverty.
He indicated that fishermen in Axim have welcomed the government’s decision to impose a three-year freeze on new entrants of canoes in the marine sector.
According to him, the initiative is part of measures to address the issue of dwindling fish stocks in the country.
From Emmanuel Opoku, Takoradi