During the meeting hosted by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development on Tuesday, representatives of the various fisher groups hinted their backing to the Scientific and Technical Working Group’s proposal of July-August as the best period to observe the closed season by all fleets for maximum impact.
The meeting was the first of the series to be hosted by the Ministry to solicit views of the fishers on the 2020 closed season.
Nana JoJo Solomon, National Executive member, the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council (GNCFC), Mr Daniel Yaw Owusu, Coordinating Secretary/ Administrator, National Fisheries Association of Ghana (NFAG), and Mr Oyeman Ofori-Ani, Executive Board Secretary of the Ghana Industrial Trawlers Association (GITA), and representatives of some Non-governmental organisations, who attended the meeting, all threw their weights behind the closed season.
They believed that it had “come to stay”.
They said they were all ready to go by any scientific findings that would help in revamping and boosting the sector and in ensuring that fisheries was done sustainably.
Nana Solomon said members of his Association, which is the largest fisheries group, all believed that the annual closure of the sea would go a long way in helping restore the dwindling fish stock.
He commended the government for its perseverance and its stand to introduce the closed season and also applauded the fishermen for supporting the move and efforts at sustaining their livelihoods.
Mr Ofori-Ani, said aside the closed season, other measures like closed areas and co-management should be adopted in addition to the annual closed season for a more effective result.
Mr Owusu, on his part, said NFAG as the Apex fisheries body, was also prepared to support the Sector Ministry in ensuring that fisheries was done right.
Mrs Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, said she was overwhelmed by the massive expression of support to the closed season by all the fisheries groups that attended the maiden meeting.
She said although there were challenging issues within the sector “that is not to say that they cannot surmount these challenges. If we put efforts together and work assiduously, I believe that the re-trogression within the sector could be resolved”.
She said the closed season was a major government’s efforts in saving the dwindling sector, adding that other meetings would be held to engage those who were not able to attend so that their views could be taken before the 2020 season was declared.
She said the Ministry was also ready to work with the Scientific Community to ensure that the right things were done to secure the fisheries sector.
Mrs Quaye said the various efforts made so far reduced the incidence of illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing that continued to rock the sector.
She said she believed IUU could not be stopped entirely, but could be reduced drastically.
She announced that the co-management policy was presently at Cabinet level and would be ready by early March to help in managing the sector.
Ghana was also working hard to purchase a fisheries research vessel and more patrol boats for the sector.