Development economist condemns subsidies in fisheries sector

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Twin City Radio, Cape Coast, Ghana

A Development Economist and the Coordinator of the PhD programme in Development Economics at the University of Ghana , Dr Wisdom Akpalu has expressed grave concern at the continuous subsidization by government in the fisheries sector.

Speaking at a training workshop in Cape Coast on sustainable fisheries organised by Journalist for Responsible Fisheries and Environment with support from the Adessium Foundation , Earth Journalism Network and Internews Europe , Dr Akpalu expressed worry over the open access nature of Ghana' s fishing industry where anyone can just enter the industry at random. He said this has resulted in over capitalization of the industry resulting in dwindling fortunes. He also said it is worrying for government to continuously subsidize the fisheries sector as a result of political expediency saying it is counter productive and is disastrous for the industry. He pointed out that the industry has the potential of earning Ghana 300million U-S dollars a year but due to illegal and unregulated fishing practises like use of dangerous chemicals and unapproved nets among others, thus leading to the loss  of a hundred thousand dollars daily from the sector. 
To stem the tide, Dr Akpalu advised that fisheries policies be attached to incentives so those who conform are rewarded. He called also for community ownership and involvement in policy design and implementation. This should be linked to the use of age old traditional practises like swearing of oath by fishermen to sea deities to engage in responsible fishing practises saying that is proven to be more effective over the years in regulating the industry.

A Director of a Ghanaian fishing civil society organisation ,Hen Mpoano , Kofi Agbogah, revealed that per section 53 of the Fisheries Act 625 , most canoes in Ghana are fishing illegally as the law states that all canoes must be licensed by the fisheries commission . He said that virtually is “galamsey” at sea since what pertains at sea is worst than illegal mining on land and asked for the media to throw sunshine on such illegal practises like ‘saiko” fishing where big trawlers owned by foreign nationals fish illegally in unapproved waters and catch fingerlings which they sell at high seas illegally to canoes. He said such practise has put the fishing industry at great danger as the fish stock cannot regenerate
A Professor and Director of the Fisheries Economic Research Unit in Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries , University of British Columbia, at Vancouver , Canada, Rashid Sumaila in a presentation via Skype , tasked journalists for Responsible Fisheries and Environment to champion the cause of the poor since most fishing communities are plagued by poverty and also to tell the story of the African woman who are at the receiving end of the mismanagement of the fisheries sector.

Participants at the workshop drawn from coastal regions in the Western , Central , Volta and Greater Accra Regions had the occasion to visit the Elmina fishing harbour which is often referred to as the headquarters of “saiko”  and were also taken through various journalistic best practises by an investigative reporter on Science , Environment and Health and a Pulitzer award winner , Kenneth Wise ; the global director of Internews Environmental Programmes and lecturer at UC -Berkeley Graduate School, James Fahn as well as the project Director of West Africa Ocean and Fisheries project , Earth Journalism Network , Ms Mona Samari on how to pitch their stories to attract the attention from duty bearers to come to the rescue of the  failing fisheries industry.

The 3day workshop was opened by the Central Regional Minister , Kwabena Duncan and the President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Roland Affail Money.