Illegal Fishing: Two Trawlers Grabbed

Two trawlers have been arrested and detained by the Ghana Nay in cape Coast and Tema for engaging in illegal fishing activities in the country’s territorial waters. In a move which underscored the Navy’s resolve to protect the country’s waters from illegal fishing and narcotic activities, the two vessels were intercepted in the country’s Inshore Exclusive Zone (IEZ) after causing extensive damage to the canoes and nets of local fishermen. Under the country’s fishing laws, the IEZ is an exclusive zone for local fishermen and a prohibited area for industrial vessels. The trawlers – MV Awoyaa 8, with registration number AF 648, AND M/V Zhong Lu Yu 1004, with registration number AF 675, have been detained at the Western Naval Command in Takoradi and the Tema Harbour, respectively, as an arbitration committee determines the next course of action. Confirming the story to the Daily Graphic in Accra, a Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Nii Amasah Namoale, said the operation had been a collaborative effort between the Ghana Navy and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, as well as the Fisheries Management committees in Cape Coast and Moree. The first trawler, M/V Awoyaa 8, was arrested in the IEZ off Cape Coast on December 17, 2009 and documentary evidence provided by local fishermen indicated that it had earlier destroyed the fishing nets of three canoes operating within the zone. The second trawler, M/V Zhong Lu Yu 1004, was detained at the Tema Fishing Harbour on the same day on the basis of documentary evidence provided by the Chief Fisherman of Winneba that it had earlier destroyed the fishing nets of local canoe fishermen in the IEZ off Winneba. The deputy minister said the action emphasized the government’s determination to deal with the many problems facing local fishermen which threatened to collapse the local fishing industry. Consequently, he added, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture had suspended the licenses of the two industrial trawlers until the determination of their cases by the Arbitration Committee. Nii Namoale said the findings and recommendations of the Arbitration Committee would be referred to the fisheries Commission for a review, in line with due process. The IEZ is meant for the exclusive use of local canoe fleet and trawling within the zone if prohibited under Section 81 of the Fisheries Act, 2002 (Act 625). Section 82 of the act also prohibits the destruction of fishing nets of canoe fishermen within the zone. However, for a long time now local canoe fishermen have come under siege by fishing trawlers which operated within the IEZ, especially off the Winneba-Elmina zone, leading to the destruction of their fishing nets, canoes and even causing the death of fishermen.