Use of harmful chemicals for fish preservation harmful to consumers – Minister

Elizabeth Naa Aforley Quaye

Mrs Elizabeth Naa Afoley Quaye, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, has warned fishmongers using Monosodium Glutamate to process expired fishes to halt the practice since it is harmful to human health.

She said fishmongers use monosodium glutamate on expired fish especially tilapia to let it look glossy to attract potential buyers. 

The Sector Minister gave the warning at a Stakeholders Meeting on Fisheries Law Enforcement in Accra, on Tuesday, to deliberate on the best ways of halting unreported and unregulated fishing practices in the country

She said some fishmongers around the Volta Lake and other coastal communities had been buying rotten or expired fishes from some cold stores, the practice known in local parlance as “Kodoso” and used Monosodium Glutamate to make them attractive to potential buyers.

The Fisheries Minister said the indiscriminate use of explosives, chemicals, under-sized fishing nets, light fishing and other aggregating devices for fishing would collapse the fisheries sector if serious and pragmatic measures were not taken to address the menace.

“The continuous use of various chemicals to harvest fish in the artisanal sector has serious health consequences for consumers.

“The practice of using chemicals is seriously wiping out our fishery resources because many of the poisoned fishes that are not harvested eventually rot at the bottom of the sea, and this pollute the environment”. 

This she explained if not stopped would lead to the total collapse of the fishery industry. 

She warned that individuals or fishers who would be caught in any form of illegal fishing practices would have a brush with the law.

Mrs Quaye promised to subsidise fishing nets to fishermen and canoe owners as part of efforts to enhance their work.

She also entreated all owners of seized fishing vessels to report to the Ministry for identification and collection and warned them not to indulge in any illegal fishing practices again.

The Minister said under the Collaboratory Fisheries Management, fishermen have been given the authority to regulate fishing activities in their respective areas and to deal with people practising illegal fishing methods. 

She noted that light fishing affected the reproductive system of the fishes and changed the temperature of the water body and, thus, made the water uncomfortable for habitation by marine life.

She explained that the current exploitation rate of the fisheries resources was not sustainable and urged all stakeholders in the fisheries industry to collaborate to stamp out unreported and unregulated fishing practices.

The Sector Minister said that the collapse of the fishery industry would have grave consequences on the national economy such as job losses, malnutrition and other negative socio-economic repercussions that would be difficult to quantify.

In the efforts to arrest and reverse the situation, the Minister said, her outfit had developed a comprehensive Fisheries Management Plan to address the challenge.

She mentioned some key measures like the effective enforcement of Fisheries legislation, improving information on fisheries biology and stock assessment to support the re-building strategy and reducing the current levels of fishing efforts and capacity.

Other measures include protecting marine habitat to conserve biodiversity and product certification and reducing post-harvest losses.

Mrs Quaye advocated the need for fishers to collaborate with the Fisheries Law Enforcement Unit to clamp down on “galamsey in the fishing sector” for sustainable fishery conservation.

Watch Committee members in Prampram in the Greater Accra Region, testified that, their vigilance against light fishing in the area, had yielded positive outcomes and enjoying bumper catch. 

They suggested that the Ministry should replicate the setting up of such committees in other coastal communities, to protect marine life in the sea and other water bodies.

The stakeholders meeting concluded ended with major players in the fishing industry agreeing that light fishing, use of -chemicals, under-sized fishing nets and bamboo for fishing should be barred.

Ghana has been battling light fishing for a number of years now and consensus reached by the stakeholders would help in bringing an end to all forms of illegal fishing practices in the country.

Source: GNA

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