17 June 2019

Ghana: Fisherfolks Back to Sea After Observing Closed Season

Economic activities at landing beaches in the country are bouncing back following the resumption of artisanal fishing in the country's waters after a month's break.

Fishermen have started sailing their canoes that were docked at the beach during the closed season while fishmongers and other customers have started visiting the beach to buy fresh fish.

The closed season declared on May 15 and ended on Saturday, June 15 was to allow the diminishing fish stock, due to poor fishing practices and overexploitation, to stock up.

When the Ghanaian Times visited the James Town Landing Beach on Sunday afternoon, a day after the timeline elapsed, some fishes had been landed with some fishmongers busily smoking them for the market.

The fishes, including tuna, were landed by the first batch of fishermen who set sail on Saturday evening and those who followed Sunday morning while majority of them returned before 1:30pm.

The acting Secretary of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council (GNFC), Mr Samuel Commey Okine in an interview at the beach confirmed that "some fishes" were landed.

When asked if the catch met their expectation, he said it was too early to conclude whether the closed season was successful or otherwise, as not all fishermen who set sail had returned.

He said events of the coming days would determine the impact of the 'ban'.

According to Nii Botchwey, one of the fishermen who first set sail, they were looking forward to better days ahead while upbeat that business would pick up along the week.

Another fisherman, Nii Ayi Ankrah, called for enforcement of laws on light fishing as the closed season would be meaningless if those unlawful practices were allowed to continue.

Other fishermen lauded the government for the introduction of the closed- season as they believed it would turn around the fishing business in the county, for the better.

It is expected that the landing of small pelagic fish by artisanal fisheries would increase to 90,000 metric tonnes in 2020 from as low as 15,000 in 2017, if the season is well observed.

The second phase of the closed season would be observed from August 1 to September 30 by Industrial trawlers.

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