By: Gabriel Ahiabor
Policemen and Navy personnel preventing the demonstrators from causing harm
Rioting by a group of fishermen numbering over 500 temporarily disrupted the inauguration of a fisheries watch volunteer group at Otrokpeh, near Big Ada in the Ada East District in the Greater Accra Region last Friday.
The volunteer group was being inaugurated by the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD), Mrs Elizabeth Afoley Quaye.
The fisheries watch volunteer group is an initiative by the Fisheries Commission and its stakeholders. The groups are to monitor the beaches to enforce fishing regulations and infractions and assist in the prosecution of fisheries violations.
They are also to patrol both sea and land to ensure that canoes that are being used are duly registered.
At exactly 10 a.m., some fishermen from Ada and its environs started the protest, vowing to prevent the minister from swearing in the 50-member volunteer group selected from the Ada East District and the Accra Metropolitan Assembly.
They destroyed canopies and plastic chairs at the venue for the event and verbally assaulted the minister and her entourage.
It took the police more than an hour to bring the irate youth who had massed up at the scene, amid the chanting of war songs, under control.
Lack of consultation
Mr Enoch Ayittey Tawiah, a former assembly member for Otrokpeh and fisherman, in an interview with the Daily Graphic, said the fishermen in the area were not consulted by the ministry before forming the volunteer group.
He said the government should have involved them in the decision-making process before the formation of the group and its subsequent inauguration.
According to him, the fishermen were not against any decision by the government to restore marine resources, adding: “All we needed was to be made part of the management of the fisheries resources.”
The event eventually came off amid tight security.
Inaugurating the volunteers, Mrs Afoley Quaye said part of the objectives of the government’s fisheries management plan was to strengthen participatory decision making in the sector.
She said an arrangement known as ‘co-management’ enabled the responsibility of managing the resources to be shared between user groups and the government, adding: “It will also create opportunity for both the community and the government to be involved in the decision-making, implementation and enforcement processes.”
According to her, the low level of decline in fish production was as a result of the rampant use of unauthorised fishing gear such as monofilament nets and light fishing and the use of poisonous substances and explosives in fishing.
The minister advised the volunteers to be firm in carrying out their mandate and also operate within the laws of the country to bring sanity into the fishing industry.
She assured them of the backing of the ministry, the Ghana Navy, the Marine Police and the Judiciary in their operations.
About 10 per cent of Ghana’s population depends directly or indirectly on the fisheries sector for their livelihood.
The sector contributes 1.2 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. However, the fish stock is declining as a result of over-capacity, over-fishing and illegal fishing.
Source: Graphic online