Low fish catch – Sellers turn to cold stores
Smoked fish sellers at the Agbogbloshie Market in Accra have turned to frozen fish from cold stores for their business because of inadequate catch from the sea.
This has resulted in the high demand for frozen fish in Accra and Tema, with prices shooting up.
The government imposed a closed season on artisanal fishing from May 15 to June 15, 2019 to allow for the regeneration of the dwindling fishing stock in the sea.
When the Daily Graphic visited the Agbogbloshie Market last Wednesday, it learnt that species such as salmon and tuna were purchased from cold stores for smoking because what they sourced from the beaches were inadequate.
In an interaction with some smoked fish sellers, they said they were experiencing low patronage because buyers found the prices exorbitant.
“We only smoke fish from the cold store because we don’t get fresh fish from the sea and the frozen fish has become expensive due to high demand,” one woman who gave her name as Naa told our reporter, Prince Acquah.
On prices, she said an average-size tuna, which went for GH¢4, now went for between GH¢6 and GH¢8, which many people found too expensive to buy.
Another trader, Auntie Esi, said she travelled all the way to Half Assini and Elmina to purchase herrings from different fishermen from those beaches, adding that they were very expensive because of shortage.
“The quantity of fish I bought for GH¢220 is now GH¢260, excluding my transportation, which is very high. This is really affecting the business,” she said.
The Executive Director of the Fisheries Commission, Mr Michael Arthur Dadzie, said data collection on catches after the closed season was going on and that the actual data would be out in October, reports Gabriel Ahiabor.
He said a vessel, Fridtjof Nansen of Norway, with 10 members of staff of the commission on board, was on the sea to conduct trawler data collection on small pelages and sardine liner fishes, while the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in collaboration with the commission, would be engaged in a shore-based data collection.
Mr Dadzie said members of staff of the commission were also doing beach combing to determine the actual catches.
Low fish catch
However, checks by the Daily Graphic in some fishing communities in the Greater Accra, Central, Western and Volta regions revealed that many fishing boats were idling and moored ashore.
Some fishermen lamented that for the past three weeks they could make only few catches when they went fishing, a situation which, they said, made them run at a loss, considering the cost involved in fueling and maintaining their boats.
Fishermen and fishmongers at the Nyanyano landing beach, near Accra, were not in the best of mood when the Daily Graphic visited the beach.
As of 9:47 a.m. last Friday when the Daily Graphic visited the beach, some of the fishermen were seen mending their nets, while others sat in their boats dejected.
Mr Kwasi Atta, a fisherman, said business was good until the ban and blamed the situation on the activities of some Chinese who were allegedly involved in fishing while the ban was still in place.
At the Prampram landing beach site in the Ningo-Prampram District in the Greater Accra Region, the fishermen said the quantity of fish caught after the lifting of the ban was nothing to write home about, reports Benjamin Xornam Glover.
The Chief Fisherman for Prampram Lower, Nene Sorsey Quarshie VI, called for a thorough review of the closed season policy to put things right.
He said the decision taken by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development to allow industrial trawlers to go fishing while the inshore canoe operators sat at home for one month was not prudent.
Restructure closed season
In his view, the period for closed season should be for every fishing vessel at the same time and not segmented among the various players in the sector.
Under the current arrangement, artisanal fishers observe their closed season between May and June, while industrial trawler fleets observe theirs between August 1 and September 30.
Those into tuna fishing observe their closed season from January 1 to the end of February every year.
The Chairman of the Prampram Canoe Owners Association, Nii Ayitey, opined that imposing the ban in June and July would be more effective for those in the Ningo and Prampram areas, instead of the May-June period.
According to him, under the current situation, the fishermen were only wasting the few resources they had on premix fuel without landing fish.
Nii Ayitey also cited light fishing as a major challenge impeding their work and appealed to the Fisheries Enforcement Unit to ensure the strict application of the law to halt illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing methods on the seas.
From the Western Region, Dotsey Koblah Aklorbortu reports that fishermen were not getting enough catch at the end of the closed season.
As a result of the low catch, some fishermen were allegedly returning to illegal fishing methods such as light fishing.
A fisherman at Axim, Mr Abaka Adu, said it was obvious that the choice of the month of May for the closed season was wrong and that “we the fisher folk may get improved catches from next month”.
At some of the beaches in Sekondi/Takoradi and Shama, small catches were being recorded.
Mary Anane-Amponsah & Agnes Melissa Yovo write that at Adina and Fuveme in the Keta municipality, fisher folk expressed disappointment that there was not much improvement in their fish catch after the ban was lifted.
The Spokesperson for fishermen at Fuveme, Mr Amos Akorli, said: “It is only hardship they brought on us; we thought things will change afterwards but the fishing business has become non-lucrative. We were made to believe that after the ban, there would be bumper harvest, but that is not what we see.”
He said for the fishing sector to be revived, the government must focus on putting in place measures to stop Chinese trawlers and illegal light fishing in the sea, especially at Ada and in the Central Region.
A fisherman at Fuveme, Mr Jacob Dodzi Apetoudor, emphasised the need for the government to pay serious attention to light fishing.
The Chairman of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council, Mr Seth Abotsi, stressed the point that the ban had not yielded positive results, saying, “We accepted the ban, hoping it would yield results, but after it was lifted, there has not been any good harvest.”