Ghana pushes for fresh trawling permits in fight against IUU
Ghana’s Fisheries Commission has issued notice to companies engaged in the country’s trawl fishing sub-sector – including operators of industrial vessels – to reapply for fishing licenses to continue fishing operations as the West African government attempts to address the challenges of dwindling stocks, illegal unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and uncontrolled access.
Ghana Fisheries Commission Executive Director Michael Arthur-Dadzie said in the notice, which has been cited in local media, the implementation of the Fisheries Act 2002 (Act 625) has for the last 19 years “unveiled challenges confronting the fisheries sector, particularly, the trawl sector.”
Under Ghana's 2002 Fisheries Act, industrial and semi-industrial fishing vessels must be registered and licensed to ensure the country’s fishing capacity and effort are aligned with the available fish stocks in Ghana’s waters.
In 2013, Ghana introduced guidelines on the registration and licensing of industrial and semi-industrial fishing vessels as the country attempted to control the number of vessels allowed to exploit its fisheries as it became clear sustainable management of the resource was not happening.
The commission said the 2013 guidelines were an update to the earlier version, which lacked “certain finer details of the terms and conditions of fishing-vessel registration and licensing vitally needed to ameliorate discretion in the application of the 2002 Fisheries Act and the 2010 Fisheries Regulations and other national and international shipping and maritime enactments.”
Support for the guidelines came from the World Bank and Global Environment Facility as part of a six-year investment in the West Africa Regional Fisheries Programme that helps Ghana sustainably increase the net economic benefits from its fisheries and aquaculture investments.
The fresh registration and licensing of industrial and semi-industrial trawl fishing vessels comes barely a month after Ghana was issued a second yellow card by the European Commission for failing to fully tackle IUU in its waters.
The European Commission, in a 2 June statement, said it has “identified serious shortcomings in the mechanisms that Ghana has put in place to ensure compliance with its international obligations as flag, port, coastal, or market state.”
The European Commission warned that illegal transshipments at sea of large quantities of juvenile undersized pelagic species were taking place between industrial trawl vessels and canoes in Ghanaian waters, an illegal trade known as "saiko."
The commission also said it observed loopholes in the monitoring, control, and surveillance system of the Ghana-flagged vessels, undermining “the reliability of the traceability system that is used for the certification of the legality of the fisheries products.”
Photo courtesy of the Ghana Fisheries Commission