The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development has called off the 2020 close fishing season for fisherfolks in the country.
This had come about as a result of inconclusive discussions between the ministry and fisherfolks on the matter due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The sector Minister, Mrs Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, made this known when she received 1,300 Yamaha branded outboard motors from the Agriculture Development Bank (ADB) on behalf of the government in Tema last Friday. The outboard motors are to be distributed among fisherfolks in the country.
'Unfortunately, when we started with the engagement process, we only met with the executives of the fishers association and then COVID-19 broke out and so with the protocols that were instituted, we could not continue and had to call off the closed season," she said.
The period for the closed season was tentatively agreed to begin from July to September. Mrs Afoley Quaye explained that normally the ministry engaged with the fisherfolks to agree not to go fishing within a certain time frame.
Support for fishery sector
The government, through the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, is collaborating with the Coastal Development Authority (CODA) to procure 5,000 outboard motors for distribution to fisherfolks in the country at an affordable and discounted price of 50 per cent of the actual cost.
The 1,300 outboard motors currently available are the first batch of the total number to be procured.
Mrs Afoley Quaye said the ministry was still determined to negotiate with those in the industrial sector since they were a smaller group, "but unfortunately, for two months they were also not fishing because some crew members of theirs were suspected to have the virus."
Consequently, she said, the ministry had agreed with the actors in the industry to suspend the close season for the industrial sector until 2021.
Goodwill of government
She urged the fisherfolks to respect the government’s goodwill by way of providing the sector with input subsidies and outboard motors and pre-mixed fuel, to engage in good fishing practices.
“You cannot use the subsidies that you are getting from the government for the wrong purposes, and so I urge all fisherfolks to use the government subsidies for the right motives.
“Fisherfolks are testifying that they are getting pre-mixed fuel readily and because it is heavily subsidised we expect fisherfolks to appreciate the support and do the right thing at sea,” she added,
She said the ministry intended to continue to enforce the law and warned that the government would not sit down and watch the fisherfolk do the wrong things.
“We will ensure that the law is enforced,” she stressed.
The Managing Director of the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), Dr John Kofi Mensah, said the bank would continue to support agribusinesses in the country.
When he was asked if the bank was the outfit to import the remaining 3,700 outboard motors, Dr Mensah said the bank was ready, if the government approached it.
“We will take it up because it is crucial that the government is supported to lift the agricultural sector.”
Dr Mensah urged fisherfolks to visit any of the bank’s branches and transact business with it including acquiring loans to expand their businesses.
“ADB was established for you and that is why we have branches in almost all coastal towns,” he said.
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