A Development Economist and the Coordinator of the PhD programme in Development Economics at the University of Ghana, Dr. Wisdom Akpalu is expressing worry at the continuous subsidization by government in the fisheries sector.
Speaking at a training workshop in Cape Coast in the Central Region on sustainable fisheries organised by Journalist for Responsible Fisheries and Environment supported by Adessium Foundation, Earth Journalism Network and Internews Europe, Dr. Akpalu expressed worry over the open access nature of Ghana’s fishing industry where anyone can just enter the industry at will.
He said this has resulted in the over capitalization of the industry thereby accounting for the sector’s dwindling fortunes.
He also said it is worrying for government to continuously subsidize the fisheries sector as a result of political expediency saying it is counter productive and disastrous for the industry.
Dr. Akpalu pointed out that the industry has the potential of earning Ghana $300million a year but due to the illegal, the unreported and unregulated fishing practises like the use of dangerous chemicals in fishing, use of unapproved nets in fishing among others, Ghana loses $100,000 dollars daily from the sector.
To stem the tide, Dr. Akpalu advised that fisheries policies be attached to incentives.
He further advised that the fishing industry must be regulated and prescribed the use of age old traditional practises like swearing of oath by fishermen to sea deities to engage in responsible fishing practises saying that has proven to be more effective over the years.
Director of the fisheries responsive initiative “Hen Mpoano”, Kofi Agbogah, revealed that per section 53 of the Fisheries Act 625, most canoes in Ghana are fishing illegally as the law states that all canoes must be licensed by the fisheries commission.
He said there is virtually “galamsey” at sea since what pertains at sea is worst than illegal mining and asked for the media to throw the spot light on such illegal practises like ‘saiko” fishing where big trawlers owned by foreign nationals fish illegally in unapproved waters and catch fingerlings which they sell at high seas.
He said such practise has put the fishing industry at great danger as the fish stock cannot regenerate.
A Professor and Director of the Fisheries Economic Research Unit Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia, at Vancouver, Canada, Rashid Sumaila in a presentation via Skype , tasked journalists for Responsible Fisheries and Environment to champion the cause of the poor since most fishing communities are plagued by poverty and also to tell the story of the African woman who are at the receiving end of the mismanagement of the fisheries sector.
Participants at the workshop were drawn from the Western, the Central, the Volta and the Greater Accra Regions.
There were presentations from investigative reporter on Science, Environment and Health and a Pulitzer award winner, Kenneth Wise; the Global Director of Internews Environmental Programmes and lecturer at UC -Berkeley Graduate School, James Fahn as well as the Project Director of West Africa Ocean and Fisheries project, Earth Journalism Network, Ms Mona Samari.
Some of the presentations included how participants can pitch their stories to attract the attention of duty bearers to come to the rescue of the failing fisheries industry.
The 3day workshop was opened by the Central Regional Minister, Kwabena Duncan and the President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Roland Affail Money.