By: Tracy Arthur
Fisher folks at Jamestown a fishing community in Accra have expressed worry about the just-ended closed season and have threatened to boycott all intended closed seasons in the near future.
The minister for fisheries and aquaculture, Mavis Hawa Koomson on July 31st lifted the ban on fishing for fisher folks to get back to work. Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mavis Hawa Koomson officially announced this year’s closed season for inshore and artisanal fishers along the coastal areas in Ghana to abstain from fishing, beginning July 1, 2021, to July 31, 2021.
Accordingly, the ban was lifted a week ago and some fisher folks of Jamestown artisanal landing site have expressed discomfort with the exercise and are threatening to boycott subsequent intended close seasons. Ghana observed it’s first closed season in the year 2019. In 2020, the initiative was not observed due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
The close season is, an important management strategy adopted by government in rebuilding depleted marine fish stock.
Hon. Mavis Hawa Koomson noted that this year’s closed season would be the most successful one as all stakeholders are involved. She further explained that, the closed season is a way of mitigating improper activities of fishing thereby allowing the fish to lay eggs to replenish the lost population due to fishing and some natural causes. Again, she said it was important that, necessary measures were put in place to reduce the excessive use of chemicals in fishing and asked fishers to stay away from transhipment (Saiko), light fishing, the use of dynamite, DDT among other illegal fishing practices.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development has officially opened the fishing season for Canoe and Inshore fishers on Saturday, July 31, 2021, which marked the end of the closed season. Nonetheless, one may ask that, has the purpose for the close season has been achieved? Since the ultimate purpose for the close season is to conserve the aqua life and also cause an increment in the number of fishes nabbed during fishing. Joseph Nii Teiko, fisherfolk at Jamestown says he was finding it very difficult to make ends meet during the closed season.
“We are not getting enough fish as expected. We don’t even understand the call for a close season. We depend on the sea to cater for ourselves and our family as well, besides the closure of the sea was sudden to us. With regards to intentions for next year’s closed season, we can’t allow it to happen.”
Nii Armah; a 30-year-old fisherman at Jamestown says there is no money for him to finance the education of his children because fishing remains his only source of managing life. Unfortunately, the closed season came up and he was depending on his mother for food(kenkey).
Another fisher folk called Shamo says work has been destroyed due to the closed season and thinks the purpose for the sea closure has not been achieved.
“We’ve gained nothing after the close season rather our work has been destroyed. Before the close season, we were getting enough fish until the sea was closed.
If not for the savings I’ve been doing, how could I have catered for my family during the hard times as a result of the close season? We’ll appeal to the government not to think about close season again because we won’t accept it.”
Elijah Okine says they will not tolerate any closed season next year since this year’s closed season has already destroyed their lives.
“We were all here when the sudden call for the close season came up. As a result, our children in various schools have been impregnated, all because we didn’t have money to send it to them for their upkeep and this is as a result of the close season. The sea is our main source of livelihood so the close season really caused pain and hunger to us. We’ll like to know the main reason for the close season, as a result, we are not accepting another close season next year.”
Fisherfolk, in Jamestown, say, the “closed season” did no good to them but rather caused havoc and this will trigger their call to reject the next intended close season.