Fisher associations in Ghana are worried about the unavailability of a research vessel to conduct examinations on the behaviour of the country’s fish species, particularly in closed seasons.
The associations – comprising the National Fisheries Association of Ghana, the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council, Ghana Industrial Trawlers Association and the Ghana Inshore Fishers Association – are intensifying their request for the vessel, as the 2021 fishing closed-season is set to begin from July 1 to August 31.
Globally, fisheries research vessels are used to survey and monitor fish populations in the world’s oceans. The results of their investigations help scientists understand the status and development of fish stocks, and also define measures for their protection.
“The implication is that as fish stocks are expected to multiply and replenish in the closed-season, the biggest threat in the season is migration of these fish into other territories, particularly Togo and Ivory Coast. A research vessel will monitor all these activities in the ocean including water temperatures and conditions of phytoplankton, which serves as food for the fish,” president of the Ghana Inshore Fishers Association, Joseph Quaye, told the B&FT.
Unfortunately, the associations indicated that Ghana has been without a fisheries research vessel for the past 15 years. The situation, according to industry stakeholders, is contributing significantly to Ghana’s depleting fish stocks and worsening the illegal fishing burden confronting the country.
In 2017, government hinted at plans to acquire a research vessel to probe Ghana’s territorial waters domain in order to discover the amount of fish species in it.
Named the Dr. Fridtjof Nansen Research Vessel, it was expected to dock in the country on September 13, 2017 and inaugurated on September 14 the same year. However, till date, Ghana does not have any such advanced research vessel.
Meanwhile, the Director of the Regional Maritime Centre, Professor George Wiafe, has also confirmed that the current research vessel at the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture became unworthy for sea since 1995.
However, the Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mavis Hawa Koomson, told B&FT that government is at advanced stage of procuring a modern, sophisticated fisheries research vessel for the sector.
The minister, who was speaking at the announcement ceremony of the 2021 fishing closed-season in Accra, also revealed that apart from the vessel, government, by close of year will procure four patrol boats to enhance monitoring, control and surveillance activities in Ghana’s marine waters. “These are major strides we are embarking on to fight against all forms of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities in our waters, and to protect our stocks,” she said.