IUU fight: Acting Assistant Secretary of Bureau of Oceans interacts with Tema fishmongers

Ms. Jennifer R. Littlejohn, the Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, has paid a working visit to the Tema Fishing Harbour and interacted with fishmongers on Illegal, Unregulated, and Under-reported (IUU) fishing practices.

Ms. Littlejohn, accompanied by some officials from the Bureau and some fisheries sector stakeholders in Ghana, looked at the operations of some tuna and trawler fishing vessels to acquaint herself with the Electronic Monitoring System (EMS) and other surveillance devices deployed on them to fight IUU.

Addressing the fishmongers and processors, she stated that one of her major duties was to help ensure that the sector oversees and conserves the ocean.

She said part of this included the promotion side of sustainability practices, which looked at how sector players could build a sustainable blue economy that works for everyone.

She added that on the other side, there was also the need to put in measures on how to go after those preventing the sector from building and protecting the ocean.

Ms Littlejohn said people,who engage in IUU fishing, such as overfishing, must be dealt with to help conserve the ocean for posterity.

During the interactions, the fishmongers blamed the industrial fishing vessels for the country’s dwindling fish stock, which, according to them, led to the fishers not getting enough fish for them to sell and process.

They also stated that it was difficult for fishmongers to identify IUU fish and called  for continuous education and practical ways to be able to identify them and how to avoid such practices.

Dr Rebecca Essamuah, Senior Research Officer and Programmes Manager at the Centre for Maritime Law and Security Africa (CEMLAWS), speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA), on the sidelines of the visit, said Ms Littlejohn’s visit was very insightful in the sense that “she has come at a time when a lot of uncertainty rests among the artisanal fishers, particularly the women that we met today and the industrial sector.”

Dr Essamuah said her call for more to be done from the artisanal sector to augment what was already being done in the industrial sector would go a long way towards fighting IUU fishing.

Mr Richster Amarfio, the vice president of the National Fisheries Association of Ghana (NAFAG), told the GNA that the visit was to allow the Acting Assistant Secretary to listen to the fisher folks, particularly the women, on matters concerning IUU and climate change and the role they could play in dealing with it.

Mr Amarfio stated that even though almost all the women were blaming the trawlers for the dwindling fish stock, “I can assure you that a lot has been done beyond what they know; some of the things they are saying may have happened in the past, but because there is information asymmetry, information is not flowing to them; so they still believe that the sector is so hijacked by foreigners and all that illegal activities are being caused by foreigners.”

He said there was a responsibility on NAFAG to engage more with the women on the issues for them to have an appreciation and get an understanding of what the issues are to play their part in curbing them.

Source: GNA

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