The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development is putting in place pragmatic measures to ban the menace of illegal trans-shipment of fish at sea popularly known as Siako, by industrial trawlers and sold to local canoes, by September this year.
Mrs Hawa Koomson, the sector minister who disclosed this, indicated that the practice was already outlawed in Ghana, but the Ministry gave a 15 per cent bye-catch allowance to industrial trawlers.
However, that permissible margin had been grossly abused with impunity by some recalcitrant trawlers, accordingly, the Ministry will soon hand out directives to fully criminalize the repugnant practice.
Consequently, persons found to have contravened such directive will attract a fine of between $100,000 to $2 million with a minimum fine increase to $1 million where catches involve juvenile fish or the use of prohibited fishing arts.
Mrs Koomson was speaking at a ceremony to present quantities of relief items to fishermen and fish processors selected from various fisheries association across the Central Region.
The more than 3,000 beneficiaries were supplied with items including basins, refrigerators, wire mesh, rice and cooking oil.
While the rice and cooking oil were given to all beneficiaries, the basins, refrigerators, and wire mesh were specifically given to women and inland fishers.
Also, nationally, more than 2,500 basins, 2,000 refrigerators, 7,000 wire mesh 20,000 bags of rice and 8,000 gallons of cooking oil have been earmarked for national distribution.
Mrs Koomson explained that when fishing inputs were subsidized, it made it easier for fishermen, hence the government remained committed to supporting fishers to improve their livelihoods.
She expressed the concern that despite the dire consequences of Saiko fishing on Ghana’s fish stocks, the practice continued unabated and kept growing by the day.
She decried the situation where fisheries offenders felt emboldened to engage in unauthorized methods of fishing without qualms to the dire consequences of their illegal acts.
The Fisheries Minister also challenged the beneficiaries who were largely women to rake in their unalloyed support against Illegal Unreported and Unregulated in their areas.
They had critical roles to play in ensuring that fisher folks at landing beaches in coastal communities adhered to acceptable fishing practices to protect the fisheries resource.
“The use of under-size mesh, light fishing, fishing with explosives, fish trans-shipment-Siako and other fishing infractions could become practices of the past, if women and chief fishermen took control of their landing beaches and banned or reported fishers found engaging in the illegalities.
“All must support and collaborate with the security agencies to police each other and report cases of illegal fishing to the right quarters for action against them to deter others,” she advised.