The National Canoe Fishermen Council has asked the government to immediately ban ‘saiko’ fishing; a practice which currently is their major problem in the fishing business.
Saiko fishing (illegal fishing) which is the practice whereby foreign trawlers target the staple catch of Ghanaian canoe fishers and sell it back to fishing communities at a profit, is collapsing Ghana’s staple fish stock – small pelagic fish such as sardinella, a crucial protein in the local diet.
The Finance Minister, as part of efforts to save the fishing industry, said that the government will stop the saiko practice while presenting the 2020 Budget.
But an Executive Member of the National Canoe Fishermen Council Nana Kwei Gyae says the practice must be banned immediately and not wait till next year to tackle the problem.
“Government says they will stop saiko. Saiko is the most destructive menace at the moment. It is what is depleting our stocks. It is what is disturbing the fishing industry because they catch juvenile fish. They are competing with artisanal fishers and they are killing the industry.
“So for government to say they will stop saiko is good news but we are of the view that they should stop it now. Because the Scientific and Technical Working Group warned that by 2020 if nothing is done, the small pelagic would collapse. So for government to wait till 2020 to stop what is actually collapsing the industry raises a lot of concern,” he lamented.
Researchers have said that illegal fishing by foreign trawlers is decimating Ghana’s fish populations and costing the country’s economy tens of millions of dollars a year.
An investigation published by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) claims that “saiko” fishing landed approximately 100,000 tonnes of fish in 2017, worth $50m (£40m) when sold at sea and up to $81m when sold at port.
The practice is precipitating the collapse of Ghana’s staple fish stock – small pelagic fish such as sardinella, a crucial protein in the local diet.
Scientists have warned that stocks could be completely destroyed as early as 2020, said EJF’s executive director, Steve Trent.