Twenty six fishermen suspected to have engaged in illegal fishing were yesterday arrested in a swoop carried out on the high seas between Tema and Prampram by officials of the Fisheries Enforcement Unit (FEU) of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture and the Marine Police Unit of the Ghana Police Service.
A number of generator sets, fishing light and mono-filament nets belonging to the suspects were confiscated.
The suspects were also believed to have engaged in dynamite fishing — the use of explosives to kill scores of fish for easy collection.
That practice is considered illegal owing to the damage it does to the ecosystem.
The Head of the Marine Police Unit, Superintendent Joseph Antwi-Ababio, told the Daily Graphic in Tema that the suspects, who had been detained, would be put before court after investigations had been completed.
He stressed that the Marine Police Unit and the FEU were determined to ensure the prosecution of those arrested to serve as a deterrent to others.
“Most cases dealt with in the past were resolved through arbitration, but we have realised that the approach has rather emboldened people to continually engage in illegal modes of fishing,” he said.
The National Coordinator of the FEU, Naval Capt Emmanuel Kwafo, said even though the unit had carried out a nationwide sensitisation programme among the fishing communities on the need for illegal modes of fishing to be eradicated, some recalcitrant fishermen continued with the practice.
According to him, not even the seizure of the equipment with which the fishermen operated could deter them.
Naval Capt Kwafo explained that mono-filament nets were non-biodegradable and, therefore, posed a serious challenge to the aquatic environment, adding that the fishermen had been made aware of that danger.
He said what was more, some of the fishermen engaged in illegal fishing often attacked personnel of the FEU who went on patrols.
“We are, therefore, determined to use legal processes to contain the practice,” Naval Capt Kwafo said.
He said the activities of the fishermen also posed a danger to whales, explaining that whales got choked by the torn pieces of the illegal nets and ultimately died.
According to Naval Capt Kwafo, there had been many instances when pieces of illegal nets and basket pieces had been found in the bellies of dead whales upon dissection.
“So by the time the whales are washed ashore, they are already in a state of decomposition, even before they are examined to determine the cause of death,” Naval Capt Kwafo said.
He called for public support to ensure the protection of the country’s coastline to avoid a depletion of fisheries resources.
Source: Daily Graphic
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