The Wa District Magistrate Court, presided over by His Lordship Maxwell Maxibrain Titriku, on April 28, 2022, sentenced two brothers to 20 months imprisonment with hard labour for engaging in fishing with chemicals.
The convicts, Adama Sondaage, 42, and Adama Iddrisu, 36, both farmers from the Kojokperi community in the Daffiama-Bussie-Issa District, confessed using chemicals to fish and pleaded guilty to all the charges leveled against them.
Two other persons, aged 16 and 74 years, were also prosecuted at the Tumu District Court in the Sissala East Municipality in connection with the illegal activity.
The 74-year-old farmer was fined 200 penalty units (GH₵2,400.00) while the 16 years old was referred to a juvenile court in Wa.
Madam Sara Bamie, the Upper West Regional Director of the Fisheries Commission, who revealed this to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in an interview in Wa on Tuesday said the activity contravened the Fisheries Act, 2002 (ACT 625) and the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29).
She said it followed reports by the Wild Life Division of the Gbelle Reserve on April 17, 2022 that some miscreants were using chemicals to harvest fish in the Kulkpong River in the reserve.
She explained that following the reports, the Fisheries Commission led the team from the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Forestry Commission and the Police to initiate investigations, which led to the arrest and prosecution of the two brothers.
Madam Bamie indicated that the two convicts claimed they did not harvest the fish from the reserve, but added that, “Aside being in the reserve, their crime was that, they used chemicals for fishing. They were prosecuted based on the Criminal Code and the Fisheries Act.”
She commended the leaders of the Kojokperi community for cooperating and supporting the team to apprehend the culprits.
She expressed hope that the conviction of the two brothers would serve as deterrent to other people who might have been engaged in the act of harvesting fish using chemicals, which she said posed serious health hazards to the unsuspecting public.
“In my underground investigations in the community (Kojokperi), I realized that, some people have eaten these fish in the community and were even falling sick.
But people did not want to come out with that information for fear that they would be tagged as the people that have reported them,” she explained.
Madam Bamie expressed fear that some of the poisoned fish might still be in the market, which was a source of worry as a consumer could not tell which fish in the market was poisoned or not before buying.
“When it is smoked and sent to the market you will not be able to tell whether chemicals were used in fishing them. So, we are all, including those shielding the perpetrators, are at risk,” she said.
Some of the poisoned fish were retrieved for safe disposal while communities in the area including the Duang, Kojokperi and Tabiesi, sensitised on the dangers of fishing with chemicals and consuming such fish.
Madam Bamie also stressed the need for urgent public sensitisation by all stakeholders to get the people informed about the risk of engaging in such activities.