Time running out to stop Chinese overfishing before African fishery stocks collapse, Ghanaian fishing leader says
A fishing industry leader from Ghana, a key base and flag of convenience for the Chinese distant-water fleet, said countries in West Africa “only have a short window of time to bring our fish populations back from the edge of collapse,” he said.
Nana Jojo Solomon, executive member of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council, said that 90 percent of the industrial trawlers operating in Ghanaian waters are actually owned by Chinese corporations, and that they are not fishing sustainably.
“[The Chinese fleet is] ravaging the waters of nations up and down the West African coast,” he told SeafoodSource. “Not only does this damage our ocean and destroy fish populations, it puts the people who rely on fishing to feed and their families and make a living at risk.”
Solomon has called on Ghana’s government to conduct “thorough background checks on vessels requesting to fish in their coastal waters to identify and exclude any operators with a history of illegality.”
This follows a recent report by the Environmental Justice Foundation, “The Ever-Widening Net: Mapping the Scale, Nature And Corporate Structures of Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing By The Chinese Distant-Water Fleet,” detailing a long track record of illegal behavior by several major Chinese distant-water fishing firms which are nonetheless continuing to operate.
“The evidence is undeniable the Chinese distant-water fleet is causing irreversible harm to our ocean and we must put an end to it,” Solomon said.
Solomon said countries around the world should “urgently” implement transparency measures around the operations of China’s distant-water fleet, including information on fishing authorizations, ownership, and tracking numbers of Chinese vessels.
“Nations around the world need to act to protect the millions of people who rely on the ocean to survive – not just in West Africa, but in coastal communities everywhere,” Solomon said.
An EJF webinar titled “Addressing illegal fishing and human rights abuses in China’s global fleet” will take place from 3 to 4:30 p.m. London time on Tuesday, 3 May. The webinar will examine low-cost reforms to global fisheries governance to improve transparency and reduce illegal unreported and unregulated and illegal fishing, according to EJF.
Photo courtesy of Environmental Justice Foundation