Mrs Mavis Hawa Koomson, Minster of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, has said her Ministry reconsider the alternative livelihood programme offered to fisherfolks during the finishing closed season.
She said the Ministry would this time allow the fisherfolks to choose for themselves what they would like to do or engage in during the season.
The Minster made these remarks when she addressed fisherfolks at the 2022 closed season national consultative meeting in Accra.
The 2022 fishing closed season as announced by the Minster would commence from July 1, 2022, to August 1, 2022, for artisanal and semi-industrial fleet and July 1, 2022, to August 31, 2022, for industrial trawlers.
Mrs Koomson said the selection of July for this year’s season was based on scientific evidence as the best period for closures and was accepted by fishers at various consultative meetings.
“Our checks revealed that increase in catches in July 2021 was higher than that of May-June 2019. This implied that the selection of July 2021 closed fishing season yielded more catches for fishermen than that of May-June 2019. This indicates that the month of July for the closed season is appropriate,” she said.
Mrs Koomson said they were going to improve on the relief items they gave to fisherfolks during the season to reduce the negative effects.
“In 2021 for instance, the Ministry distributed a total of 15,000 bags of rice and 6,250 cartons of cooking oil to fishers and fish processors. In addition, a total of 5,221 outboard motors were also distributed to fishers during the closed season,” she added.
She said they would ensure that the gains made from observance of the closed season were not eroded by activities of illegal fishing, adding that, they would empower the Fisheries Enforcement Unit to arrest and prosecute those involved in the act.
Mr Emmanuel Dovlo, Research Officer, Fisheries Commission, said the closed season was necessary to address the depleting fish stocks which posed a major threat to the industry and livelihoods of fishing communities.
“There were higher fish catches after 2021 and 2019 closed seasons than catches in 2020 when there was no closed season. This means that the continuous implementation of the closed season and the increased in the duration could have a more positive result on fish catch,” he said.
Mr Oyeman Ofori, Board Secretary, Ghana Industrial Trawlers Association, reiterated the need for the Ministry to relook at the alternative livelihood empowerment for fishers since most of them relied solely on fishing and had nothing to rely on the closed season.
He called on the Ministry to also consider “closed areas,” where areas with higher depletion of fish stocks could be closed instead of the general closed season.
By Jesse Ampah Owusu/Emelia Nkrumah, GNA