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Fishermen Urge Mills To Investigate Premix Distribution   
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The Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council has called on President John Evans Atta Mills to urgently open investigations into activities of Landing Beach Committees (LCBs) which threaten the survival of the country’s fishing industry.

The Council said government appointees to the LCBs were unnecessarily interfering with the activities of the LCBs in contravention of the guidelines establishing them and thereby worsening the already bad situation facing members.

It said members of the Council, thinking that the successful management of the premix fuel during former President Rawlings’ era would be replicated in the government of President Mills, voted for the National Democratic Congress in the last general election.

‘However, this successful management of the distribution is yet to be realised the earlier the President acted the better’.

At a general meeting in Accra on Tuesday, Nii Abeo Kyerekuanda IV, Executive Secretary of the Council, said the new guidelines set to reorganize the administration of the premix fuel to ensure that it actually got to the fishermen had been badly implemented resulting in worsening conditions for them.

LCBs are bodies set at the beaches comprising stakeholders in the fishing industry who are supposed to receive, manage and ensure that premix fuel discharged to fishing communities get to the fishermen.

Nii Kyerekuanda said instead of allowing chief fishermen, as prescribed by the guidelines, to form the LCBs since they better understood the situation on ground, Members of Parliament and Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives had unwarrantedly interfered with the implementation of this guideline and formed their own LCBs.

He said the National Premix Committee had displayed incompetence in handling the problem and was running the administration of the product without recourse to the objective realities on the ground causing confusion and dissatisfaction among the fishermen.

He said the Committee, just like the LCBs, had been acting contrary to the prescriptions of the guidelines as well as taken unilateral decisions that were not in the interest of the fishermen.

Nii Kyerekuanda also called on government to regularize the importation and distribution of fishing inputs such as nets and gears to ensure that they were affordable and reached the fishermen who really needed them most.

He said even though those inputs enjoyed tax relief, the presence of many middlemen in the sector made their prices to go way above the affordability levels of fishermen.

“Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that there is no government outfit to monitor the activities of these importers to ensure that the exemption granted them reflects in prices at which fishermen buy these inputs. So the question is, who really benefits from these tax exemptions?” he asked.

Nii Kyerekuanda said studies showed that aquatic resources were not infinite and called on government to find resources to equip the Navy adequately to fight pair trawling and other unapproved fishing methods so as to conserve the country’s marine resource base.

Meanwhile, the Council said it would soon present a petition to the President to remind him of the challenges facing the industry.
Source: GNA

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