To restore Ghana’s marine resources, some fishermen at Elmina in the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem (KEEA) Municipality have appealed to government to drop granite boulders into the sea to prevent large industrial trawlers from depleting the fish stock.
They said stopping the practice of “bottom trawling,” which drags heavy weighted nets along the seabed to scoop up fish in Ghana’s territorial waters was responsible for the rapid depletion of the fish stock.
Marine resources serve important ecological functions including biological diversity, fish and seafood supplies, oil and gas, minerals, sand and gravel, renewable energy resources, and tourism potential and unique ecosystems like coral reefs.
The fishermen expressed these concerns in separate interviews with the Ghana News Agency at Elmina on the impact of the ‘Closed Season’ on their activities.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, in collaboration with the Fisheries Commission, imposed the 2021 ‘Closed Season’ starting Thursday, July 1 to Tuesday, August 31.
It is a strategy to reduce excessive pressure and over-exploitation of stocks in the marine subsector and to rebuild the depleted marine fish stocks.
Mr Emmanuel Otabil, a fisherman, said dropping huge boulders into the ocean was the latest move by many countries to protect sea life.
It is a band-aid solution to bottom trawling, an aggressive fishing method that indiscriminately sweeps up any marine life in its path, destroying entire ecosystems in the process.
Mr Otabil said increasing activities of trawlers in Ghana’s waters and illegal trans-shipment, popularly called “Saiko” had deprived many artisanal fishermen and others in the sector of their livelihoods.
The industrial trawlers target the staple catch of artisanal fishers, harvest them and freeze them into pallets of fish and sell to agents on the high seas, who in turn sell to the fishing communities.
“Meanwhile, these fishes are the sole preserve of the artisanal fishers by law and dropping boulders in the sea would stop trawlers dropping their nets in the area but not harm the seabed’s marine life, which includes sandeels, crabs, and flatfish,” Mr Otabil said.
“As we speak, we are in our major season of bumper harvest but there is very little or no catch in many fishing communities”, he said.
Mr Kojo Mensah-Abrampah, also a fisherman, said pair-trawling was being done everyday throughout the year, which did not allow the fish to spawn.
Mr Samuel Kofi Entse, who described himself as an educated fisherman, said Saiko was a threat to the livelihood of more than 2.7 million Ghanaians, including 140,000 fishermen along with thousands of fishmongers, majority of whom are women.
Others are traders, canoe carvers, input suppliers and fish carriers as well as their dependents, which constitute 10 per cent of the nation’s population.
“Our seashore and environments are part of the heritage bequeathed to us by our ancestors, and we have a duty to leave that heritage for generations to come,” he said.
Madam Sheila Abban, a fishmonger, commended the government for its perseverance to introduce the closed season and applauded the fishermen for supporting efforts at sustaining their livelihoods.
She, however, said aside the closed season, the closed ocean territory or reserved fishing area could also be adopted to serve as breeding grounds of fishes.
The GNA observed that the closed season had been fully complied with and the usual hustle and buzzle at the seashore were absent.
The beach appeared a pale shadow of itself with many of the fishers sitting idle while others repaired their canoes and mended their nets.