Stakeholders go hi-tech with illegal fishing fight in Ghana – An EU-funded fisheries governance project, “Far Ban Bo” has procured 25 specially made mobile phone devices for fisher groups to monitor Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.
The illegal fishing methods include light fishing, use of under-size mesh net and trans-shipment on Ghana’s waters.
A total of 20 of the phones were presented to four IUU Community Management Groups (CMGs) in coastal communities from Kedzikope, James Town, Anomabo and Dixcove in the Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western regions respectively.
The remaining five would be presented to a group at Kpando Tokor, an inland community also in the Volta Region for community surveillance.
The mobile phones, which have an IUU monitoring mobile application known as ‘DASE’ (evidence in fante) comes with floatable mobile cases to allow the devices to be taken to sea and other water bodies to gather evidence of illegal fishing to help in prosecuting IUU cases.
The application, which is compatible with smartphones and Android versions, allows people to capture and send pictures and/or short videos of IUU fishing with specified location and time to a system
to be accessed by relevant stakeholders for use in prosecution.
One hundred of the floatable mobile phone cases were also presented to chief fishermen, fisherwomen, marine police and naval officers with the Fishing Enforcement Unit (FEU) and officials from the Fisheries Commission to also contribute to the fight.
The presentations were done during an IUU multi-stakeholder platform meeting in Accra, which deliberated on the issue of illegal fishing, its negative effects on the fishery industry, the challenges and successes in fighting the illegality and the way forward.
Mr Kyei Kwadwo Yamoah, Programmes Manager, Friends of the Nation said the project had already carried out education for the groups on the importance of gathering data on the activities of illegal fishing and noted that there would be further training on how member fishermen could take still and clear photos to be used as evidence to support prosecution of IUU cases.
Mr Christopher Ackon of the European Union Office in Accra called on fisher folks to remain committed to the cause by using the gadgets for the intended purpose and work with the personnel of FEU for desired results.
“You have a role to play to ensure the sustainability of the fishery industry. You’re the ones who go in search of the resource and as the scientists have predicted about the depletion of the fish stock, we’re living on the borderline,” he said.
Mr Godfrey Baidoo-Tsibu, Western Region Fisheries Director said it was in the best interest of fishermen to engage in acceptable fishing practices saying, in countries where fishers complied with regulations, the situation was different as “fishers in US fish less but make money, we fish more but make less money.”
The Far Ban Bo, which means protecting the fishing livelihoods in fante is being implemented in fishing communities in Ghana jointly by a consortium consisting CARE (the lead), Friends of the Nation and Oxfam.
The four-year project is expected to end in December 2020 and seeks to contribute to sustainable fishery resource management to improve food security, nutrition and livelihoods of smallholder fishers and other users of the resource.