The Programmes Manager of Friends of the Earth, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Mr Kyei Kwadwo Yamoah has entreated stakeholders in the fishing industry to make inputs into the Fisheries Amendment Act for fishers to operate in a harmonious environment.
He said there were a host of issues that were not friendly to the fishing community which needed ratification to give their business a boost.
Mr Yamoah was speaking at a day’s workshop with Fisherfolks and stakeholders of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council (GNCFC), the Fisheries Commission and the Fisheries Enforcement Unit at Adiembra in Takoradi.
It was attended by key fisheries stakeholders from six Districts of Jomoro, Ellembelle, Evaloe Adjomoro-Gwira, Ahanta-West, the Sekondi Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly (STMA) and Shama of the western region.
The workshop sought to discuss, share experiences and concerns on the implementation of the national Fisheries Management Plan drafted by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aqua Culture Development (MoFAD) which is bounded by law, Act 625 section 40(1).
The workshop which was organised by Friends of the Earth, to give a platform to stakeholders to discuss and propose what the content of the future fisheries law should be.
Mr Yamoah said the MoFAD law Act 625 in 2002 and its accompanying regulations, required a review of the Act to reflect the new trends since it was inadequate to address several forms of Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
He said stakeholders had identified weaknesses which include; enforcement and prosecution weaknesses, where the current Act and other regulations had not been adequate to support successful prosecution.
Mr Yamoah noted that stakeholders including fishers, traditional leaders, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the Media among others had registered their displeasure about poor stakeholders’ consultation during the enactment of Act 625 and other Fisheries laws.
He said it was incumbent upon the enforcement units in the fishing industry to be abreast of the technicalities in the fishing law to be able to execute their mandate judiciously.
The Western Regional Director of the Fisheries Commission, Mr Alex Sarbah reminded the meeting that the preparation of the Nearshore Fishery Management Plan (NFMP) was to help rebuild fish stock to enhance the socio-economic conditions of fishing communities thereby improving food security.
Touching on the reduction effort and capacity for the artisanal or canoe fishery, he said his outfit had embarked upon canoe registration and embossment implementation exercise with about 80 per cent of canoes in the Western Region registered.
Mr Sarbah said the major challenge was on the embossment of numbers on canoes and appealed to chief fishermen to ensure that their fishermen complied with the directive to avoid confrontation with the Fisheries Enforcement Units offshore.
The Chief Fisherman of Lower Axim, Nana Kofi Bentil suggested to the GNCFC to hire the services of a lawyer to assist them to make inputs into the drafting of the new law.
An officer from the Fisheries Enforcement Unit (FEU), Mr Agyemang Opambour stressed the need to intensify punitive measures on offences like light fishing, use of explosives and other obnoxious chemicals in fishing expeditions.