The Ghana Industrial Trawlers Association (GITA) has called on the Fisheries Commission and the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture to acquire a fishing research vessel to obtain and process data to guide the fishing sector.
Mr Oyeman Ofori-Ani, Board Secretary of GITA, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency indicated that without a research vessel, it would be difficult for the Ministry and the Commission to assess the impact and benefits of the observing of the close season.
Mr Ofori-Ani stated that even though industrial trawlers had observed a close fishing season for five times since 2016, the Commission was yet to provide any scientific evidence that it was yielding the required results.
Industrial and tuna trawlers observed the close fishing season in November 2016, January and February 2017, as well as January and February 2018 as part of measures to replenish Ghana’s fish stock.
He explained that with the availability of a research vessel, the Commission could gather data on the country’s fish stock before a close season begins, and just before the ban is lifted.
This, he noted, would help the Ministry and government to put in appropriate measures that could replenish the dwindling stock as a comparison of the data before and after would be obtained scientifically.
He said that was the only way to have a sustainable fishing sector adding that policies must not be formulated in isolation.
He gave the assurance that the Association was not against the introduction of the close season, but rather was looking for a sustainable approach where closed area and other measures could be introduced.
Mr Ofori-Ani also asked for an extension of the closed season to the canoe operators as according to him, apart from outnumbering the number of the industrial and industrial trawlers, they also operated in the shallow waters where the fishes lay their eggs.
Mr Ampratwum Boateng, President of the GITA, on his part, appealed to government to give the trawlers some tax related reliefs during the closed season as they incur cost even though they were not engaging in fishing activities.
Mr Boateng explained that during the season, they still used fuel to move to deep sea at night to prevent pirates from attacking vessels at breakwaters, as well as to provide electricity for the crew on board.
He further indicated that the Commission also expected them to pay for fishing license during the closed season adding that “the license is to allow us to go for fishing so if we are not fishing, why should we pay?”.