Companies operating international vessels in Ghana’s territorial waters have been urged to declare all their catch and pay the appropriate tax to the Ghana Revenue Authority.
Dr Benjamin Campion, Lecturer at the Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources, at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, who gave the advice, noted that bigger vessels fishing in local waters are normally given a quota, and when they flout it there is a penalty for them to pay.
He said, however, some deliberately declare the stock “as accidental catch” thereby evading penalty, making the nation to lose revenue and this impact negatively on the economy.
He was speaking at a day’s validation workshop on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing popularly known in the fishing circles as “Saiko” an illegal fish trade at sea that is gradually gaining grounds among fishermen.
It was organised by “Hen Mpoano”, a Sekondi-Takoradi based NGO which has focus on coastal and marine ecosystems and funded by the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund for fishermen, fishmongers and fishing groups in Takoradi.
The workshop was held on the theme: “Addressing illegal fishing through education and sensitisation for sustainable fisheries management.”
Dr Campion entreated operators of bigger vessels not to venture into areas designated for smaller vessels as they deprive the smaller vessels the required fish they need to catch.
He advised local fishermen to declare the fish catch to enable the government give correct statistics on the quantity of fish landed by them in a year.
The Lecturer warned against illegal fishing activities at sea as they contribute to the decline of fish stock in the country.
He said for instance fish catch begun declining from 1996 from 252,112 metric tons to 85,000 metric tons in 2011 and the situation still persist.
Dr Campion condemned the illegal fish trade at sea and said research showed that the practice is common among fishermen at Axim, Elmina and Apam.
He said instead of the fishermen going for fishing expedition they buy the fish at sea from other vessels.
Mr Yaw Atobrah, Central Regional Director of Fisheries, cautioned fishermen to refrain from fishing in prohibited areas in order not to deplete the stock for posterity.
He expressed the need for fishermen and fishing companies to respect the Fisheries Act 625 of 2002.
Mr Atobrah, who was speaking on the topic: “Enforcement of fisheries Act and Regulation; Current challenges” mentioned some of the illegal method of fishing as the use of chemical, unauthorised fishing gear, unregistered vessels and fishing in unauthorised areas among others.
He called for strict enforcement of the act by instituting strict punishment for those who flout it to serve as deterrent to others.
The penalty the Saiko offence attracts to a local boat is expected to pay a fine of GH?360.00 while international vessels face between one and two million dollars fine.
The participants appealed against the politicisation of the fishing industry as it could collapse the sector.
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