The Centre for Maritime Law and Security (CEMLAW) and the Centre for Coastal Management (CMM) organised a training programme for journalists in Ghana to increase awareness of the actions and consequences of Distant Water Fishing Vessels (DWFV). The programme was supported by the US Embassy in Accra and is part of a two-year project that is also being carried out in six other African countries.
Dr. Kamal-Deen Ali, Executive Director of CEMLAW Africa, explained that the project aimed to prepare journalists and build on their existing industry knowledge. The training would help them become champions for addressing the activities and consequences of DWFV. Dr. Ali emphasised that fishing was a crucial resource that was socially and culturally associated with the people, and most people relied on it as a source of food. Ghana was among the top ten countries in the world that consumed fish, and the fish resource might fully collapse due to stock depletion. He urged journalists to promote dynamic media that could keep policymakers accountable while ensuring transparent decision-making processes in DWFVs.
Dr. Isaac Okyere, Academic Coordinator, Centre for Coastal Management, UCC, provided an overview of Ghana’s Fisheries Sector, dividing it into two categories: catch and culture. He noted that artisanal, semi-industrial, and industrial fishing is done for subsistence and commercial objectives within the capture category. While inland fishing and aquaculture both contribute 10 percent to Ghana’s fishing sector, marine contributes 80 percent.
Mr. Sven Biermann, Executive Director of the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI), urged the government and relevant fisheries organisations to provide the sector with the necessary information. He emphasised that significant data and information existed but were inaccessible to the media and the public.
According to Mr. Kyei Kwadwo Yamoah, Convener of the Fisheries Alliance, a survey by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) suggested that Ghana was losing between 14.4 and 23.7 US dollars per year in fishing licence fees and fines. Mr. Yamoah added that while Ghana’s taxes and fines are maintained low for local vessels, 90 percent of the country’s trawl fleet is owned by Chinese enterprises that utilise local ‘front companies’ to register as Ghanaians and avoid the law.
For the most part, the training programme aimed to increase the media’s awareness of the consequences of DWFVs in Ghana’s fishing sector. It also aimed to promote transparent decision-making processes and dynamic media that could hold policymakers accountable. The government and relevant fisheries organisations should provide the necessary information to the media and the public. It is essential to address the activities and consequences of DWFVs to prevent the depletion of Ghana’s fish resources.