Political interference, a setback to fight against illegal fishing – Expert

Political interference is a major setback in justice delivery and the fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing methods in the country, Project Coordinator for FAR BAN BOR (Protecting Fisheries Livelihood), Kwame Mensah has said.

According to him, political activists often interrupt investigations into cases of IUU, when their sympathizers are caught. He warns such personalities should desist from interfering with investigations and justice administration by the respective agencies.

Mr Mensah stated that there are several instances where fishermen have been arrested by the marine police for engaging in illegal fishing, but the police are later coerced to set them free, mostly by politicians.

“One of the key issues is government commitment. And government should stop their interference because most of the things that comes, you see government interfering. There is an instance where the marine police had arrested some people for illegal fishing activities and Deputy Minister had written to the marine police to release them because they’ve had discussions with the fishermen and they’ve promised they wont do it again,” he said.

He argues such that behaviours, if not curtailed, could equally thwart the powers of our security agencies and the law, and ultimately ripple into a worse and depleted fish stock.

“This is about law. And when the law catches you, nobody should be able to free you except the law. So if we have a system that respects the law and nobody pushes the law to his or her side, I am sure we will have a very wonderful fisheries sector”, he noted.

50% fish production deficit in Ghana

The country is now producing a little below 440,000 metric tons of fish annually instead of the 1 million metric tons of fish needed for consumption. There are widespread reports of fishermen engaging in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) methods of fishing which has contributed to the deficit over the years.

Speaking in an interview with journalists after a two day training workshop organized by FAR BAN BO in Accra, Mr. Kwame Mensah charged state actors especially, and politicians, to regard the laws of the country and allow the marine police and other security agencies execute their duty without obstruction or interference.

Mr Mensah stressed that fishermen have expressed worry at how politicians and other authorities abuse power in the country, adding that that mjust stop somewhere.

FAR BAN BO (Protecting Fisheries Livelihood) is a four year project funded by European Union  with support from Care International, Friends of the Nation and OXFAM. The project seeks to address challenges of over fishing and unsustainable fishing practices including illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, low compliance and weak capacity for law enforcement within the sector.

The media training, which took place at the AH hotel in Accra, focused on tenure rights and security for fish landing sites and pilot mechanisms for grievances and dispute resolution among the fisher groups.

Kojo Ennimil Arthur|Beachfmonline.com|Ghana

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