International conventions on fisheries must be identified as state laws
He stressed that such laws must be classified as part of the laws of the country.
Nana Dr. Ofori-Ani, speaking at a Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority’s (GPHA) media forum, said for such conventions and laws to be legally enforceable, they need to be domesticated to empower the enforcement agencies, and get the needed compliance from stakeholders in the industry.
Some of the conventions in the fisheries industry are the Cape Town Agreement of 2012, and others from the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
On safety in the sector, he said the Ghana Maritime Association’s (GMA) periodic surveys had useful as according to him, some safety issues that hitherto were ignored by the vessel owners were being taken seriously.
He stated that GMA’s recent operations had exposed stakeholders to a lot of the things they needed to have done which they were not aware of, adding that currently apart from talking about the condition of the vessel’s safety equipment or machinery, “we were also focusing on the crew as their welfare has now become a major issue to be taken onboard in 2023.
“We concentrated on our safety life-saving equipment first, and then we moved on to the other aspects of the vessel safety. So yes, the standards were low but right now, there is a programme in place that is bringing the standard to the international level.”
Nana Dr. Ofori-Ani cautioned that the inability of Ghana to adhere to international best practices in the fisheries industry could have dire consequences on the sector.
He identified some of the consequences as the imposition of sanctions on the country by international bodies like the European Union, which is a major export destination for Ghana.
Captain William Eson Thompson, the Deputy Director in charge of Surveys and Inspections at the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) commended Ms. Hawa Koomson, Minister of Fisheries for the issuance of licenses for vessel owners.
Capt. Thompson disclosed that the issuance of fishing licenses has injected discipline into the sector.
Commenting on the enforcement of safety regulations on fishing vessels to meet international practices, he emphasized that even though the safety standards of some fishing vessels have been low in the past, the GMA was doing all it could to raise those standards to acceptable levels.