Closed season: Elmina Fishermen have fled to Ivory Coast and Togo amid hardship.
Due to challenges caused by the closed fishing season, many fishermen in Elmina have fled to Togo and the Ivory Coast.
This would let them to repay company debts they obtained after being affected by the sea’s closure on July 1.
While some inhabitants were having difficulties, other others started farming beyond the coastal town.
To allow for the natural replenishment of the declining fish stock in the water, fishing expeditions are legally prohibited during the restricted season.
According to a statement released on April 12, 2022 by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, the season began on July 1 and ran through July 31, 2022, for artisanal and semi-industrial fishers, and on July 1 and ran through August 31, 2022, for industrial fishers.
The Fisheries Act, 2002 (Act 625) Section 84 states that this was done in accordance with it, and the Ministry further states that “the time of the 2022 closed season was agreed upon based on scientific data and stakeholder consensus.”
To encourage compliance, the Ministry has stopped providing premix gasoline to landing beaches.
Because of the poor catches in the lagoon, inhabitants of Elmina have started purchasing fish from the cold store and some fishmongers.
Due to the situation’s shortage, fish prices have skyrocketed and several fishmongers have had to close their doors.
The Ghana News Agency visited the Elmina landing beach on Friday and found it to be nearly completely empty and with little activity.
Among other activities, the fishermen were napping, repairing their nets, playing draft, and conversing.
They all voiced their disapproval of the closed season in separate contacts with the GNA, citing it as an unnecessary policy that was negatively affecting their lives.
Mr. Kobina Eshun, a fisherman, stated that the closed season was when the harvest was at its peak, but that they had been denied that wonderful opportunity and many had been left jobless because they relied exclusively on the sea for livelihood.
“For us, life is intolerable. We rely on loans to fund our operations, and we are unable to repay our debts. Last year, when the sea was blocked, there were no beneficial outcomes, and this year will be no different, he predicted.
He demanded that the government end the practice and added that “life is hard; government should come to our rescue.”
Similar sentiments were voiced by Mr. Kwaku Arhin Nketsiah, an assemblyman for Liverpool Electoral Area. He questioned the purpose of the closed season and suggested that the government had not been consistent with the period for the season.
He refuted assertions that artisanal fishers were damaging the ocean and added that industrial trawlers needed to be stopped right away to prevent additional damage to Ghana’s territorial seas.
He claimed that the increase in fuel prices had made their already precarious financial condition worse.
“We are starving. We are barely getting by. Some individuals have taken to robbing us and terrorizing us inside of our homes,” he claimed.
He recalled how several of these individuals had recently stolen a boiling pot of soup intended for selling Banku out of hunger.
Another fisherman, Egya Kwesi Awotwe told the GNA that most of the fishermen had migrated to Ivory Coast for survival.
“This is the time for bumper harvest and so the fishers procure loans between May and June to repair their boats and mend their nets in readiness for the season but unfortunately the government has decided to close the sea. If they stay here, they cannot pay back their loans,” he noted.
He appealed that instead of closing the sea, government should find means to eliminate light fishing and Saiko.
“If these conditions remain, nothing is going to change even if the sea is closed for one year,” he stressed.
He called on government to provide some compensation for them to mitigate their plight like it was done in other countries.
When the GNA arrived, the fish market was essentially deserted.
The fishmongers demanded the removal of the closed season as well since it prevented them from making a living.
Moms are sobbing. Because we are borrowing to feed ourselves, we have become engulfed in debt, according to a fishmonger named Madam Esther Nkrumah.
“I’m a single mom of six kids. This is how my family and I get by. Madam Ernestina Ntsiful added, “We are asking with the President not to seal the sea once more.