Excellent morning Ladies and Gentlemen of the media. Thank you for the opportunity you have offered to listen to us. We appreciate your response to this press conference even at such a short notice.
Over the last decade or two, the fisheries sector has been on a massive decline and it appears to be heading towards a total collapse.
This is a crisis and is threatening our livelihoods and employment as fishermen here in Prampram. It is threatening the very existence of our community, national security, food (fish) security, our national economy and the protein requirements of both the present and future generations.
This is the sector that provides direct and indirect jobs for over 2.5 million Ghanaians nationally especially the coastal dwellers ie fishermen, fish processors and their dependants.
Our local and artisanal fisheries which mainly target the small pelagic fisheries namely – Sardinella locally known as “kanklama, antebo”, Salmon locally referred to as “samman” and Anchovies locally called “Amoni” or generally called the peoples fish constitute over 80% of the landings of marine canoe fishermen.
The fact is that these group of fishes are not in abundance for catch in our waters now and fears are that we the fishermen will be out of jobs if measures are not taken.
We are reliably informed through our meetings with government through the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MOFAD) and the Fisheries Commission that a bold step needs to be taken to replenish fish stock in our waters.
We agree perfectly with John Ortberg when he says “Prudence is foresight and far-sightedness; and the ability to make immediate decisions on the basis of their long-range effects”
Fact is, despite the decreasing fish landings, the number of marine canoes and boats fishing in Prampram alone numbers a little over 60 canoes in the year 2000 to over 300 artisanal canoes now. This shows that the number of canoes has increased over the period.
While fishing effort is very high; catch per unit effort is extremely low due to the large numbers of canoes and other activities which made the sector to be faced with a crisis of overfishing of all stocks.
The situation is further alarmed by the multi-faceted illegal unreported and unregulated fishing practices across the sector ie the trawlers, semi-industrial boats and artisanal fisheries. Some of these illegal fishing practices include
• Light fishing
• Blast/dynamite Fishing
• Use of obnoxious chemicals to fish
• Use of small mesh size nets
• Trawlers fishing in near shore reserved for artisanal fisheries
• Pervasive use of monofilament nets in the marine sectors
As fishermen, we do a lot of catch during the month of August, but for some years now there has been a drastic decline in our catches and once again fear to be out of jobs if measures are not taken. This is what we do to take care of our families and educate our children.
The danger is that if action is not taken, the fishing communities will be completely unable to sustain their livelihoods because there will be no fish to catch.
We must take the bitter pill now in that it is one of the measures being undertaken to replenish fish stock to improve our livelihoods and that of our communities.
It is against this backdrop that we are convinced and thereby throw our support behind this move as we believe it will bring lasting solution to the depleting fish stock in our waters and bring down the hardships fisher folks are faced with.
We therefore call on all and sundry working in the sector to embrace, support and observe the CLOSED SEASON scheduled from 7th August – 4th September, 2018.
In conclusion, we want to appeal to government to as a matter of urgency enforce the fisheries laws and regulations on the illegal unreported and unregulated practices before, during and after the closed season in order to yield a maximum benefits from the closed season.
Our profound gratitude to the media for the utmost cooperation.
Thank you so much for granting us audience.
BERNARD AYITEY DINSEY
ASEMPA TETTEH APPIAH
RAYMOND TETTEH AYIKU