GHANA - The European Commission (EC) has warned that henceforth any incident of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing by a Ghana-flagged vessel will result in a total ban on fish products exported from Ghana to EU markets.
Consequently, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) has threatened to sanction any local vessel found to be engaged in IUU fishing.
Addressing stakeholders in the fisheries sector at a press conference in Accra yesterday, the sector minister, Mr Nayon Bilijo, said the EC issued the warning in May this year.
The purpose of the press conference, according to the minister, was to update stakeholders in the fisheries sector on the progress MoFAD had made in its discussions so far with the EC and also announce specific policy actions the ministry intended to take to deal with IUU fishing incidents.
MoFAD dialogue with EC
According to him, Ghana and the EC had been discussing a range of corrective actions that Ghana had to take to meet its obligations as a trading partner of the EC.
“These corrective actions are: enhancing the fisheries legislative framework, the adoption of a national plan of action against IUU fishing, the adoption of a fisheries management plan and strengthening of our monitoring, control and surveillance systems,” Mr Bilijo said.
He said after the dialogue, the EC noted the positive progress Ghana had made in its efforts at combating IUU fishing, and added, “The EC cautioned Ghana to ensure that no local vessel is caught or reported to have committed IUU fishing in the next few months.”
According to the EC, “If a single Ghanaian vessel is associated with IUU fishing in the coming months, the dialogue process will be terminated and Ghana will find itself being issued with a red card.”
Measures to address IUU fishing
Outlining some of the measures the MoFAD had put in place to address IUU fishing along Ghana’s shores, Mr Bilijo said the ministry had embarked on strengthening the fisheries legislation which would see the adoption of new regulations by the end of 2014.
“The legislative reform will, among other things, impose severe sanctions on IUU fishers and repeat offenders. It will also include the introduction of new control measures on Ghana-flagged vessels that intend to fish in neighbouring countries,” he said.
Mr Bilijo observed that MoFAD had also stipulated that all semi-industrial and industrial Ghanaian-owned fishing vessels, including trawlers, should use satellite vessel monitoring systems.
“All tuna fishing vessels are already equipped with vessel monitoring systems (VMS) and we expect to complete the installation of VMS on all trawlers by the end of June this year,” he added.
According to the minister, MoFAD had also adopted a national plan of action to combat IUU fishing and added that Ghana now had the arsenal to deal squarely with any IUU incidents.
TheFishSite News Desk