Ghana updating its laws, adding patrol boats to fight IUU fishing

Published on
September 22, 2021
A fishing harbor in Ghana

Ghana has begun drafting a new law to replace its current Fisheries Act, with the aim of revitalizing and enhancing the productivity of the country’s fishery ecosystem – which, according to Ghanaian Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Minister Mavis Hawa Koomson, has been under siege from illegal fishing operations.

Hawa Koomson told local media her ministry has commenced the process of developing a new national fisheries management plan to replace the previous plan, which expired in 2019. 

The plan, according to the Ghana Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Ministry, is to refocus government efforts to “rebuild fish stocks to enhance the socio-economic conditions of fishing communities, create employment within national and international frameworks and standards and improve food security, as well as contribute to gross domestic product and foreign exchange earnings.”

The Fisheries Act – created in 2002, and amended in 2014 and 2015 – has several provisions, including regulations on fisheries management and conservation, aquaculture, and trade in fish products.

Specific provisions in the act include the registration and marking of local, industrial, and semi-industrial fishing vessels; the use of fishing gear and fishing licenses; the dumping or transshipment of fish; fishing in foreign waters; compliance measures and monitoring mechanisms; the process for approval of aquaculture establishments; fish seed production certificates; fish breeding permits; rules governing the import and export of live fish, and rules regarding the sanitary control of fish landed in Ghana.

The 2002 Fisheries Act paved the way for the establishment of the country’s Fisheries Commission and the Fisheries Development Fund – in addition to providing guidelines on how to regulate the management and conservation of Ghana’s fishery resources. The regulations were last reviewed in 2015, which led to the insertion of new regulations concerning measures to deter and eliminate illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Reviews of both the Fisheries Act and the National Fisheries Management Plan "will ensure that the management of fisheries resources meets emerging trends in fisheries management and international best practices," Hawa Koomson said.

Hawa Koomson said Ghana's government “is also taking steps to acquire four patrol boats that will be deployed in the four coastal regions to support frequent inspection at sea, as well as a research vessel for regular conduction of scientific fisheries research.” The target areas include the country's  Central, Greater Accra, Volta, and Western regions.

The acquisition of the patrol boats and review of the Fisheries Act and National Fisheries Management Plan “are among several others are the steps being taken to ensure that our fishery ecosystem is kept alive and productive.”

Photo courtesy of Fabian Plock/Shutterstock  

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