Anti-Human trafficking NGO, Challenging Heights is demanding the immediate suspension of the ban on fishing activities at sea.
Government announced a closed season for all fishing activities in the ocean as part of measures to improve the country’s dwindling fish stock.
The directive which kicks in next month has been met with fierce resistance from fisher folks across the country. Currently the nation’s fish stock is critically low prompting the move by government.
Criticizing the directive, the President of Challenging Heights, James Kofi Annan argued that it will cause majority of affected fishermen to migrate to the Volta Lake as an alternative until the closed season is over.
This, according to him, will put pressure on the Volta Lake, increasing child trafficking prevalence in deprived communities along the coastal communities in the process.
Addressing a news conference Wednesday, July 18, 2018, Mr. Annan said the closed season period marks the beginning of the long school vacation and the bumper fishing season, presenting the opportunity for parents to earn income for themselves and to support the education of their children.
Thus, he warned “banning fishing in the coastal regions of Ghana will…present fertile grounds for fishermen to be forced to send their children to the Lake Volta for alternative fishing activities in keeping with the history of the trafficking of children to the Lake Volta.”
Urging government to immediately reverse the directive Mr. Annan bemoaned: “This opportunity for mass trafficking of children will undoubtedly erode the gains we have made in reducing the incidents of child trafficking in fishing.”
At the same time, he continued “preventing fishermen at this crucial time when the new academic year will begin in weeks means thousands of parents in the coastal areas may be unable to support their children in school when the school year begins and this may result in school dropouts, defeating the very essence of the free SHS programme currently being implemented.”
The position of Challenging Heights, he said is that the Ministry has taken a wrong decision which is about to create poverty among coastal fisher folks in Ghana.
He further stressed that the Anti-Human Trafficking NGO believes that the decision based on “rumour, murmuring and social media analysis without any empirical evidence.”
Fisher folks to sue govt over fishing ban
Meanwhile, the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Association has served notice it will go to court over government’s decision to close the sea for fishing for a month.
Speaking to Starr News, the Executive Secretary of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Association Nii Abio Kyerekuanda IV described the directive as unnecessary and that they will strongly challenge it in court.
The directive, he said, if allowed to stand will “inflict unnecessary gratuitous hardship on the fishermen and this is what we are going to accept.”
It is your right to sue
The Deputy Fisheries Minister Ato Cudjoe in a quick riposte said the government will still go ahead with the exercise regardless.
According to him, it is within the right of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Association to go to court, but the government is not backing down on the directive because “we have gotten to a very critical point and we cannot allow the fisheries that feeds about 10 percent of the population to collapse on our watch and no leader will want to see that happen.”