Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing violates conservation and management measures currently in place in many countries. ‎IUU‬ is recognized as a serious threat to sustainability of capture fisheries due to its negative impact on the ecology of the oceans and economy of fishing nations. Global losses due to IUU fishing alone are estimated between US$10 billion and US$23.5 Talkbillion per year with West African waters deemed to have the highest levels of IUU in the world representing up to 37 percent of the region’s catch (OECD, 2012). This is estimated at US $ 100,000 per day, in addition to damage of artisanal equipment in the marine waters of West Africa. While much of the IUU fishing in the region is believed to be conducted by foreign vessels fishing in the EEZ of coastal West African States, in Ghana, a large part of the IUU fishing problem can be attributed to the Ghanaian fishing fleet. IUU fishing is often associated with a large quantity of by-catch as fishers do not comply with regulations, particularly the use of small mesh size.

Transhipping of fish is banned in some West African countries, including Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea. In Ghana, the practice is authorized under a special permission and can only occur in port under the supervision of an agent of the Fisheries Commission. In recent years, a new form of transhipment 12314229_1046611232037658_5098194219207625605_odeveloped between industrial vessels and the artisanal canoes, with the canoes buying frozen by-catch from trawlers at sea. Although it is deemed illegal and prohibited under the Fisheries Act 625 of 2002 (Section 132), the business has grown due to its lucrative nature in many coastal communities of Ghana. This is known as ‘SAIKO’ fishing. It is widely practiced in some landing sites in the Central, Western and Greater Accra Regions.

As one by-catch collector puts it, “with SAIKO, harvest is always assured”. The problem of SAIKO is compounded by overfishing, poor public education, greed and weak fisheries law enforcement mechanisms. This brief (uploaded newsprint image) proposes practical enforcement measures to reduce illegal fishing activities.

At the just ended IUU National Seminar the Hon. Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Hon. Sherry Ayittey, called for an end to Saiko fishing and as fishermen to “say no to Saiko” as it contributes to the depletion of our fisheries resources.

Combating IUU Fishing

Saiko is a new form of IUU fishing identified in Elmina, Apam and Axim. It is a practice whereby the large foreign marine vessels invade the artisanal fisheries zone of the EEZ, deploy their heavy duty gear and catch fish of all species and sizes but mostly small juvenile fishes. The local fishermen buy this illegal catch out at sea. This practice is depleting artisanal fishing zones of fish stocks, threatening livelihoods, reducing profitability and food insecurity in fishing communities.

addressing iuu fishing

The aim of this project is to contribute to sustainability of the artisanal fisheries of Ghana through targeted education, advocacy and sensitization of stakeholders on some selected illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing practices taking place in the exclusive economic zone of Ghana.

Project objectives:

  1. Facilitate greater stakeholder collaboration to counter IUU and Saiko fishing in Elimina, Apam and Axim in Central and Western Regions.
  2. Build community and national level support for voluntary compliance and enforcement of fisheries regulations in Elimina, Apam and Axim.
  3. Educate and sensitize fisheries stakeholders in Elmina, Apam and Axim on how to overcome Saiko fishing in their communities.

Funding for this project is provided by the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund.