SECRIFISE facilitated a learning visit by community leaders to a model community (Kpando- Torkor) along the Volta Lake, where anti-CLaT initiatives have proven successful and sustainable in reducing the practice to the barest minimum and where structures exist to systematically remove children from labour and other forms of bondage and reintegrate them into mainstream society. The learning visit offered an opportunity for participants to exchange knowledge on the Torkor model, including its main features and how it can be adapted and replicated in the project’s target source communities in the central region to prevent CLaT.
Highlights on the Torkor Model
The model is based on the recognition that informal workers in the rural economy are capable of addressing the challenges associated with their work, including the problem of child labour, when appropriately assisted. Thus, an inside-out approach is facilitated rather than an outside-in approach (that focuses on unstainable external agents). Informal workers are organized through meetings of common interests and shared values are reinforced. Such meetings motivate the workers to protect and assert their rights, reaffirm their responsibilities including the responsibility of proscribing child labour and trafficking and improve productivity.
The creation of a child labour free zone involves all stakeholders like teachers, parents, children, unions, community groups and local authorities. All stakeholders are convinced that child labour is unacceptable and work together to ensure all children go to school. Some key elements of the model include the following;
Social mobilization (organizing community-based groups; informal workers)
Sensitization and capacity building
All children in school
Community systems promote education
Livelihood empowerment for the parent of children susceptible to child labour and trafficking
Community participation in teacher motivation
Child labour monitoring on the lake using security cameras
Alternative labour supply for child labour (eg. training of divers)
On June 18, 2020, Cephas Asare was hosted by Gideon Commey to a Facebook interview on the #StopSaikoNOW campaign. Below is the full-text transcript:
Gideon Commey : GC; Cephas Asare: CA
GC: Welcome to our live text interview on Saiko. Thanks to everyone who is following this. We are starting this in 10mins with our first question. I’d like to welcome our guest Cephas Asare for your time to share insight and shed light on Saiko, an issue we should all be concerned about. (Please SHARE and post comments and tag me with the hashtag #StopSaikoNOW. Thanks)
CA:Thank you, Gideon, for supporting this call and providing the platform to discuss this critical issue of Saiko. A single tree does not make a forest. We need all the support we can get to end this scourge.
GC:In layman’s terms, can you explain to us what Saiko is, and why all of us following this interview and the Ghanaian public should be worried about it?
CA:In a layman’s term, Saiko is the unlawful transfer (transhipment) of fish from an industrial trawler to a specialized wooden canoe. This is illegal and falls under fishing practice referred to as Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. The transferred fish are frozen into slabs and sold to these specialized canoes who in turn sell it to fish processors at the landing sites at a high profit.
To put things in perspective, I will give a brief history of Saiko. It is said by fishermen to have started in the 1970s when fishermen went out to fish and came across (at the time) Korean manned industrial fishing trawlers dumping unwanted fish into the ocean. The fishermen approached the vessels to find out why and also to get some of the fish being dumped. Because of the language barrier, the best they could pick-up from the fishermen onboard the vessel was that the fish being dumped was Saite which meant bad fish and what was retained was Saiko, the good fish. The fishermen managed to convince them that the fish they were dumping was also Saiko.
Once they established this relationship with the Korean vessels and made them understand that the fish being dumped is Saiko for the fishermen, trade by barter started. The fishermen will give farm produce to the vessel in exchange for Saiko fish. Over time, this seemingly harmless trade festered like a wound because the vessels now knew that there was the demand for the fish they threw away and they could make money from their unwanted fish. They started targeting fish which they would have normally avoided, freeze them and sell to now specialized canoes on the high seas. This became today’s Saiko business. Fish that are considered to be bycatch and hence of less or no value for the trawlers is fish of value to the artisanal fleet and the saiko trade is driven by the demand for it, which the trawlers are exploiting.
Why should we be worried? Our sea is zoned out so vessels can operate without conflicts. We have what is called the Inshore Exclusive Zone (IEZ); this zone is reserved for small scale fishermen to fish and this is where you mostly find pelagic fishes. Trawlers have been sighted to deliberately come into this zone to harvest pelagic fish and sometimes collide with small scale fishermen fishing vessels leading to loss of properties. This violates their fishing agreements.
The catch from Saiko is unreported and thus hamper efforts to put good management measures in place. For management to be sound, you need good data. Saiko deprives us of such valuable catch data information for sound fisheries management decision making.They are harvesting this pelagic fish with unapproved fishing nets with small mesh size. This is evident in the analysis of the slab of Saiko fish they sell to the specialized Saiko canoes. 55% of the fish in the slab belongs to the small pelagic family (sardines, mackerel, anchovies, etc) and 90% of the slab content are immature fish that should have been left to replenish the ocean and ensure the sustainability of the ocean. The value of the saiko fish is lower (economic value, flesh quality and shelf life) compared to another fish that is fully matured. So, in effect traders are not reaping the maximum economic worth of the fish species.
What this means is that if they continue to harvest this juvenile (immature) fish, a day will come when we will not have fish in there for small scale fishermen to harvest.There are currently between 76 to 78 industrial trawlers operating in Ghanaian waters. These trawlers are competing with over 13000 canoes which support the livelihood of about 2.5 to 2.7 million Ghanaians, that is, 10% of our current population. Their action is threatening to collapse the small-scale fisheries and the ripple effect of that collapse should get everyone extremely worried.
GC: Thanks for the opening response Cephas. My 2nd question is: What exactly makes Saiko illegal? Also, do we know where these industrial trawlers involved in Saiko come from and who own them? In short, which industry giants, corporations and individuals fund Saiko? #StopSaikoNOW
CA:Saiko is illegal because it contravenes the fishing laws of Ghana (Act 625, LI 1968, Act 880). Vessels are not allowed to transship without authorization and supervision from the Fisheries Commission (an arm of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development responsible for policy implementation). Saiko does not obey this law. The minimum fine for such an offence is US$1 million
Secondly, fishing trawlers are licensed by the Commission to harvest specific fish, that is, snappers, squid and others which are referred to as demersal (bottom-dwelling) fish. what is happening now is that they are targeting pelagic (surface-dwelling) fish like sardines (eban), chub mackerel, anchovies (keta School boys) etc that are meant to be fished by small scale fishermen who fish with wooden canoes and semi-industrial purse seine vessels.In 2017, 100,000 metric tons of Saiko fish worth over US$50 million were sold. These monies benefit a few. One saiko canoe trip can service about 450 small-scale fishing canoes.
In Ghana, our fishing laws prohibit foreigners from owner fishing vessels. What is happening now is, Ghanaians buy the fishing license from the Commission and front as owners of vessels and these vessels come into our water and fish. The arrangement makes it possible for the ‘fronters’ to get peanuts while the real owners get the lion shares. This arrangement is what we call the beneficial ownership.
Where are the trawlers from? 90% of the trawlers are Chinese distant fishing fleet. Those who front for these vessels are powerful and well-connected people in our society and some of these high-profile personalities are beneficiaries of the largesse from the trade.
It’s a lucrative venture and some are willing to kill for it. An observer onboard a vessel went missing last year and has still not been found. The vessel involved moves about freely. I have been threatened before with beatings and death. An executive of the Saiko association (yes, they have an association called the by-catch collectors association headquartered in Elmina) once sent a Facebook message to insult and tell us how insensitive we are to their business.
We should remember that the good of one does not surpass the good of many.
GC:It is definitely scary to have your life threatened while pursuing social justice. I commiserate with you Cephas. This, however, brings me to the next question about the impact on community and livelihoods:I understand that about 300 coastal communities are affected by Saiko. Can you tell us some of the specific negative impacts on these communities, where they are located and how livelihoods are been impacted? #StopSaikoNOW
CA:Thank you for the support. It’s never an easy journey this work of ours.
There are over 300 landing sites dotted across Ghana’s 550km coastline, from Aflao in the Volta Region to Avlenu (New Town) in Western Region.
Saiko, if not checked, will exacerbate poverty in coastal communities. Currently, fishing communities are struggling to land enough fish to feed their homes and Ghanaians because of fish decline which has been accelerated by activities of Trawlers.We are going to see more rural-urban migration as these communities try to cope with the decline and possible collapse of their livelihood. Already, our cosmopolitan cities are choked with the in-flock of youth seeking better life options and poor urban planning. This is going to increase when coastal communities collapse.
Lack of affordable small pelagic fish also means food insecurity in coastal communities. Sustaining coastal fishing economies is one sure way to attain SDG 2: Zero hunger and SDG 14: Life below water. Our small-scale fishermen, like small scale farmers, are the ones who feed us in Ghana, their ability to carry out this critical role is under threat from Saiko.
GC:Lets now talk about you and the important work you are doing: I know you’ve been at the frontline of the#StopSaikoNOWcampaign. What actions have you taken, which local fisher groups have been involved and how has the government responded?
CA:Some of the actions we have taken includes:
Working with the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen’s Council (GNCFC) we have raised awareness in coastal areas and gained their support to push for policy implementation. There has been some level of enforcement action on the part of the government as a result of these but we need to do more. Arrested vessels go back to fishing with impunity without paying the fines.
We have tried to raise the awareness at the national level as well through conferences, dialogues, TV, Radio, Newspaper and social media campaigns.
Training journalist to understand the issues and report fisheries issues right.
We (a coalition of 8 NGOs and GNCFC) recently wrote an open letter to the president to get him to act.
We have a petition out for people to sign as a support for the open letter.
Actions are being monitored by other international agencies like the EU who could step in to issue a yellow or red card to Ghana. These cards, like in football place sanctions on offending countries to take action or their fish export into the EU market stops. That has dire implication for our foreign exchange earnings and our tuna fishing industry. They issued a yellow card once in 2013 and was lifted in 2015 when we put measures in place to address IUU fishing (https://stopillegalfishing.com/press-links/eu-issues-green-card-to-ghana-on-fisheries-management/). Now, it seems we have gone back to business as usual.
Government’s response has been slow because the ministry responsible has not acted decisively. Rumour has it that some of the very influential coastal dwellers/personalities benefit from Saiko, hence the president is not being informed of the menace. This is why we need the groundswell; we need the general public to become more aware of the issue and help put our government’s feet to the fire for change to happen. We are having another Galamsey at sea!
GC:There is no doubt that you’ve done a lot on this campaign, but there is so much more to be done and that is where our Facebook community of activists and supporters, as well as the public, come. So before we wrap this up: can you tell us what we can all do to support the campaign against Saiko?
CA:Thank you, Gideon. Indeed, more has to be done what you have started here is definitely a step in the right direction. More of the thing our general public and our Facebook community can do includes:
Sign the petition on www.act.ejfoundation.org/saiko. We need the numbers to petition govt and the EU to take action. This will be added to the open letter signed by chief fishermen along the coast and present to the president
Like the Stop Illegal Saiko now and Hen Mpoano pages to get information on events
Circulate information from the page widely. Our current approach is targeting the general public with credible information on Saiko. Also, we are looking to reach other high-profile citizens
If there are financial/in-kind support. We are happy to get such support to print in the graphics, buy radio and TV airtime, produce flyers
We are also open to suggestions on how to make maximum impact to end the scourge
GC:Thank you so much, Cephas, for your time. This is indeed enlightening and we are happy to support the #StopSaikoNow campaign.
CA:Thank you for giving me the opportunity to shed light on this unseen devastation happening to our ocean and the implications it has on small-scale fishermen and Ghana’s coastal communities
GC: Thank you, everyone, for joining us tonight. I’m grateful to each one of you who shared the conversation, posted and commented to support us. I will leave you with a verse from one of my favourite Ghanaian national compositions- ‘Yεn Ara Asase Ni’ by Ephraim Amu:
“Adu me ne wo nso so… (It is now our turn) Sε yɛbɛyɛ bi atoa so…” (To continue what our ancestors started)
Have a goodnight!
CA: Thank you Gideon and everyone who joined. Let’s continue to spread the word, like our Facebook page ‘Stop Illegal Saiko Now’ and “Hen Mponao’. You will get to see more updates that you can share with your networks.
God bless our homeland Ghana
Profile of Cephas Asare:
Cephas Asare is an activist working to ensure social justice and sustainable fisheries in Ghana. He has spent the last 10 years addressing social injustice in the small-scale fisheries sector in Ghana. He’s been at the frontline of ending Saiko since 2015. His work on Saiko fishing in Axim, Elmina and Apam in 2015 brought the issue of Saiko fishing to the fore of fisheries management discussion.
Cephas leads the fisheries, advocacy and communication programs at Hen Mpoano, an NGO focusing on fisheries and coastal resources management.
He holds a BSc in fisheries and Aquatic Science from University Of Cape Coast (UCC), and an MSc in Ecology and Conservation from University of Aberdeen. He is also a scholar of the Chevening Awards (FCO) programme.
A major objective of establishing a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) is to support local economic development through financial intermediation. VSLA is a group of people who collectively support a structured process for saving money and offering loans at the local level. They provide a simple and accountable system for savings and loans for communities which do not have ready access to formal financial services or underserved by the formal financial institutions such as banks or microfinance companies.
Under the Coastal Sustainable Landscape Project, Hen Mpoano formed over 20 VSLAs within the Ellembelle, Jomorro and Nzema East districts in the Western Region of Ghana, to help diversify livelihood activities of local people who depend mostly on farming and the exploitation of natural resources including mangroves. The VSLAs bring together community members who save for mutually agreeable objectives and take out small loans from those savings to expand their businesses, pay for their children’s school fees and support household activities.
The Koyele VSLA group at Metika in the Jomoro district is one of the VSLA groups formed under the CSLP project in collaboration withU.S. Forest Service. Joseph E. Kwamena a member of the Koyele VSLA group in the Jomoro district, took a loan of 500.00 GH Cedis (US$86) to start a piggery project. He started with two pigs and within a year, he has over 26 pigs and piglets on his farm worth about 1300 GH Cedis (US$224). He is very excited to be part of the VSLA group.
Joseph E. Kwamena, the beneficiary, had this to say: “The VSLA has been very beneficial to a lot of us in this village. During the share-out for this cycle, I contributed 765.00 Gh Cedis (US$131) and received 1071.00 (US$185). My plan is to reinvest this money in my piggery business.”
Globally, there are an estimated 152 million children in child labour, 72 million of which are in hazardous work. These children are now at even greater risk of facing circumstances that are even more difficult and working longer hours. In Ghana 1.9 million are in child labour, 49000 are in fisheries of which 21000 are in hazardous work.
This year’s World Day Against Child Labour focuses on the impact of crisis on children. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic fallout are having a major impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. In all these, unfortunately, children are the first to suffer. The current crisis can further push millions of vulnerable children into child labour. This makes it even more critical to protect the right of children to life – to quality education, health and love. Children are meant to be children, to learn and not to earn in workplaces.
Today, we join the rest of the world to call on all to end child labour and secure a better future for children. We support the rest of the global community to call for the protection of children. Our SECRIFISE project will continue to work with stakeholders to address this canker and ensure government’s commitment to eradicate the worst form of labour is achieved.
The Cape Three Points Forest Reserve (CTPFR) is located in the Ahanta West Municipal of the Western Region. It is the only coastal forest in Ghana and among the few remaining coastal rainforest reserves in West Africa. Since 1999 the forest has been recognized as a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA) and an Important Bird Area (IBA) because of its exceptionally high level of biological diversity. Floristically, the Cape Three Points forest reserve is the second most diverse reserve in Ghana.
Despite this high biological diversity, the ecological integrity of the reserve, including the forest quality and extent is increasingly threatened by human activities. Farming along the fringes of the forest is reducing the size of the forest buffer. A recent Land use and land cover assessment of the landscape indicates that land use conversion from forestry to perennial tree crops is accelerating deforestation and degradation of the peripheral areas of CTPFR resulting in replacement of natural forests by monoculture stands, primarily of rubber and oil palm.
In an attempt to reverse this trend, Hen Mpoano has raised 5,776 seedlings of native tree species in their nursery in Adalazo, one of the communities fringing the Cape Three Points Forest reserve with funding from Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund through the BirdLife International Regional Implementation Team.The seedlings were mobilized from 2 different sources. With the help of the Community Resource Management Areas (CREMA) members, Hen Mpoano raised a total of 806 seedlings at the nursery. The project also received over 5000 seedlings from a sister NGO- Goshen Global Vision (GGV).
CREMA members have started planting in critical ecological sites which were identified and mapped out through a spatial assessment of existing satellite images and drone images. This reforestation exercise is aimed at restoring the ecological integrity of the Cape Three Points forest landscape by re-establishing the connection which existed between the forest reserve and the adjoining coastal wetlands.
As the challenges to the ocean continue to grow, so does the need for novel solutions and the people driving them.
To that end, the theme of UN World Oceans Day 2020 is “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean.” Innovation—relating to the introduction of new methods, ideas, or products—is a dynamic term and one that is fundamentally filled with hope.
The event will shed light on innovations from around the globe in areas of need that are both promising and proven, ones that instill optimism, and ones that have demonstrated the ability to scale effectively. It will also provide a platform to thought leaders of varied backgrounds, who are paving new paths forward for the health of our ocean and our planet.
The programming of the day and subsequent events taking place throughout World Ocean Week (week of 8 June 2020) will explore innovations across categories including technology, systems infrastructure, resource management, consumer products, finance and scientific exploration — and will outline how these innovations can be applied, their potential impact, and the resources needed to transform them into long-lasting solutions.
This year’s theme is especially relevant in the lead-up to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, which will run from 2021 to 2030. The Decade will strengthen international cooperation to develop the scientific research and innovative technologies that can connect ocean science with the needs of society.