The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) says it is considering extending the annual suspension of fishing activities at sea by one more month.
The Ministry said an extension of the Closed Season from one to two months would ensure full recovery of the country’s ‘over-exploited and depleted’ fish stock and ensure all-year-round fishing to boost economic growth.
Mrs Mavis Hawa Koomson, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, who disclosed this at a press conference, in Accra, on Monday, said the Ministry was impressed with the outcome of the annual closed season so far.
She said data gathered by the Ministry and stakeholders from the 2021 closed season indicated that the initiative was yielding positive results.
However, she noted that more drastic measures were needed, which included the frequent closure of the sea to allow for the full replenishing of the fish stock to ensure all-year-round fishing in the country.
She said the Ministry would, therefore, in the coming days engage stakeholders in the sector to find a suitable additional month within the minor upwelling period to implement the additional closure.
It is the desire of the Ministry that based on the scientific evidence and recommendation, an additional one month closed season for all fleet during the minor upwelling season (December to February) would be considered in the near future.
The final decision to implement an additional one-month closed season during the minor upwelling period would be made in consultation with fisheries stakeholders,â€ the sector Minister said.
The conference was to share the outcomes of the 2021 closed season.
Currently, the closed season is observed between July and September for Artisanal and Semi-industrial fleets and January and March for the tuna fleets.
Mrs Koomson said a recent survey to ascertain the impact of the 2021 closed season showed that the majority of the fisherfolk favoured the implementation of the initiative in July.
She said, out of 211 fishers sampled, only 40 per cent preferred the closed season in May instead of the current month of July which indicated the success of the programme.
“Most fishers indicated that they landed varying quantities of different types of fish species and that fish catch increased immediately after the closure was lifted,” she said.
Mrs Koomson said the Fisheries Enforcement Unit (FEU) under the Ministry, would, in the coming years, get tough on fishermen who failed to heed to the closed season directive, adding that the FEU had intensified their operations after the closed season to ensure that the gains made were not eroded by illegal fishing practices.
At least five fishermen across the country were arrested and prosecuted during the 2021 closed season for fishing illegally.
The Fisheries Minister appealed to the stakeholders, particularly the various fishing unions to support the Ministry to achieve successful closed seasons in the coming years.
The closed season was reintroduced by the government in 2019, to among other objectives, allow recovery of the country’s over-exploited and depleted fish stocks.
It is implemented by the MoFAD in collaboration with the Fisheries Commission and other stakeholders in accordance with Section 84 of the Fisheries Act 625.