The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng has rejected accusations that the government is insensitive to the plight of fisher folks with the ban on fishing at sea.
Government announced a closed season for all fishing activities in the ocean as part of measures to improve the country’s dwindling fish stock.
The directive which kicks in next month has been met with fierce resistance from fisher folks across the country. Currently the nation’s fish stock is critically low prompting the move by government.
Anti-Human Trafficking NGO, Challenging Heights, in criticizing the directive warned that it will cause majority of affected fishermen to migrate to the Volta Lake as an alternative until the closed season is over, putting pressure on the Volta Lake, increasing child trafficking prevalence in deprived communities along the coastal communities in the process.
“…Banning fishing in the coastal regions of Ghana will…present fertile grounds for fishermen to be forced to send their children to the Lake Volta for alternative fishing activities in keeping with the history of the trafficking of children to the Lake Volta.
“This opportunity for mass trafficking of children will undoubtedly erode the gains we have made in reducing the incidents of child trafficking in fishing,” cautioned the President of Challenging Heights, James Kofi Annan on July 18.
The Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Association on July 17 served notice it would go to court over the decision to close the sea for fishing for a month.
Speaking to Starr News, the Executive Secretary of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Association Nii Abio Kyerekuanda IV described the directive as unnecessary and that they would strongly challenge it in court.
According to him, the directive if allowed to stand would “inflict unnecessary gratuitous hardship on the fishermen and this is what we are going to accept.”
Reacting to the uproar that greeted the directive, Prof. Boateng called for calm, pointing out that the ban was to enable the country replenish its diminishing fish stock.
According to him, accusations that the government was being insensitive and overly wicked by the directive was misplaced, stressing it was imperative for such decision to be taken to protect aquatic life for sustainability.
“Bear with us. We are not a wicked government. We are really using science and technology to help fishermen. Maybe we didn’t start the education early enough. But the thing is that it will be good for us. We don’t want to deplete our fish stock and then Ghanaians have to travel all the way to Gambia or Senegal before they can get the fish that they need.
“So that’s the essence of the close season,” Prof. Boateng told journalists at the Koforidua Technical University at the opening ceremony of the 10th International Applied Research Conference and Technology Fair.
“I am pleading with the fishermen, we love you, we all have relatives who are involved in this trade, and just bear with us, two weeks to one month it will be over then we can all enjoy the fish,” he added.