Media Advocacy

Media Advocacy

Promoting Sustained Compliance and Enforcement of Fisheries Regulations through Media and Stakeholder Engagements

In the last 3 years, prosecution of fisheries infractions and enforcement of fisheriIMG_1437es laws have witnessed significant improvement, thanks to donor supported initiatives aimed at promoting compliance and enforcement, including the BUSAC funded project to address illegal fishing through education and sensitization. However, gains made over the years relative to compliance and enforcement risk being eroded by political interference, especially during this election year.

Promises being made by political actors are compromising enforcement actions and also weakening fisher folk compliance with fisheries regulations. During follow-up meetings with personnel of the Fisheries Commission at the regional level, it became known that offenders of fisheries laws are making demands for confiscated gear such as generators and fishing nets to be given back to them. In fishing communities, notably Elmina and Sekondi, it is widely perceived that some politicians are orchestrating and supporting such behaviours under the pretext of protecting poor fisher- folk livelihoods. If this tendency continues unchecked, it will cascade into widespread illegal fishing activities with potential deleterious effect on marine fish stocks which are already on the decline.

Furthermore, the Fisheries Commission has formulated and adopted a management plan that calls for series of management measures to help rebuild the fishery. These include seasonal closures, additional fishing holidays, control of new entrants into the fishery, co-management of the resource etc. Many of these management measures and other reforms identified in the management plan are yet to be implemented to the letter. On the contrary, policies that fuel increased fishing pressure and overexploitation of stocks – distribution of outboard motors and other fishing inputs – have recently become the centrepiece of government support to the fishing sector.

In addition, many fishers are of the opinion that light fishing and use of monofilament rubber nets are not the major causes of the decline in marine fisheries resources as compared to fish transhipment (Saiko fishing). One of the lessons Hen Mpoano learned during implementation of the IUU/SAIKO fishing project was that it is insufficient to focus on one aspect of illegal fishing – SAIKO – while other practices degrading fisheries resources – light fishing, chemical fishing, small mesh sizes etc. are not targeted.  Hen Mpoano also learned that there is the need to target all fleets; canoe, trawlers and semi-industrials and related stakeholder groups involved in the SAIKO chain in order to find lasting solutions to the issue of fish transhipment.

The just ended project on SAIKO fishing made use of the media to communicate some of the key messages to the general public. However, this was limited to a few media outlets. Furthermore, media personnel were not given enough orientation on the dynamics of IUU fishing activities. Consequently, this project will draw on media publicity as well as stakeholder engagement and message development to bring illegal fishing issues to public attention and incorporate fisheries reform into political discourse during this election year.

Objectives:

  • To promote fisheries law enforcement and compliance to counter Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported fishing activities by all fleets
  • To empower fisher folk stakeholders to demand fisheries reform from duty bearers
  • To increase media attention and stakeholder engagement on fisheries in the lead up to elections.
Combating IUU Fishing

Combating IUU Fishing

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.