World Ocean Day Workshop - West Africa Fisheries Update

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EJN, Ghana

As part of activities to mark the first ever Illegal Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing day on June 5th and World Oceans (June 8th), EJN’s new partner organization in Ghana, the Journalists for Responsible Fisheries and Environment, organized a set of press trips in the country’s main fish landing hubs, Elmina, Moree and in the Volta region.

“We cannot look on while the illegalities in the sea go on..." - Nana Mensah Bonsu

A retired fisherman mending nets / Credit: Shirley Asiedu-Addo

Shirly Quaicoo, one of the founding members of the network, sent us this report from the field:  

Our first World Ocean Day as a network of journalists was well received by the public and local fishing communities, who responded in most parts positively to the research visits we coordinated.  In total, 19 regional and local journalists attended our activities in three different fishing communities.

The theme of our first World Ocean day as a network of journalists was “Saving the Ocean, Our Collective Responsibility.” We split the activities into three parts: one research trip in the Volta region, and another trip to the coastal towns of Elmina and Moree.

Our colleagues in the Volta Region embarked on a field trip to assess the state of fishing communities in Keta in the Volta Region as fisheries stocks continue to dwindle. During their research trip, they investigated the effect of IUU fishing and the fishing industry in the Volta region, a major fishing area in the country. It is worthy to note that the fishermen briefed participating journalists on the use of illegal fishing methods which they noted as having a devasting effect on the communities.

When questioned by the journalists, fishermen backed the recent government proposal to declare the month of August as a closed fishing season.  Mr. Pillow Defor, Chief Fisherman for Fuveme, Atiteti and Agorkedzi all in the Keta municipality also said in an interview that light fishing and the activities of trawlers were also major concerns, underlining the need for these to be tackled by the government.

Around 20  journalists from the Central and Western Regions of Ghana also embarked on press research trips to the coastal towns of Moree and Elmina in the Central region on the 8th of June, 2018. In Moree, the group met with the Chief Fisherman Nana Mensah Bonsu who accompanied the journalists as they interacted with local fishermen, who in turn raised their concerns regarding IUU and ocean pollution.

Some of the participating journalists interacting with the Chief fisherman of Moree, Nana Mensah Bonsu / Credit: Shirley Asiedu-Addo

During the trip, Nana Bonsu told the journalists: “We cannot look on while the illegalities in the sea go on. We are happy that the journalist group were interested in fisheries and are ready to get issues to the people in authority for real action.”

Some of the fishermen advocated for strict enforcement laws against Illegal Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) activities. Some argued that there should be more political to address the menace posed by IUU. Kofi Preh, a fisherman said, “we cannot do much if there is no political will to ensure the enforcement of the laws.”

In the coastal town of  Moree, fisherman mostly talked about the effects of IUU particularly illegal transshipment and how it affects their work. “Sometimes we go to sea with nets and come back with no nets. Some of these trawlers come into our space and drag our nets away. Our lives are being frustrated,” said one fisherman to the journalists.

Journalists interviewing some fishermen on the problems affecting them / Credit: Shirley Asiedu-Addo

Nii Amarh, another fisherman from Elmina urged the government to show more commitment in working to stop the illegalities on the sea to save the sea’s resources from total collapse.

“Actions from the government must show us that they are serious about saving our oceans,” he said.

“We sometimes come home with empty nets instead of fish” Ekow Panyin, a fisherman at Moree in the Central Region of Ghana also told journalists.

These local press trips showed that not much has improved in the fishing communities since we hosted our workshop and press trip in collaboration with EJN in September 2017.

The shores were still dirty and fishermen still complained of dwindling catch.

Participating journalists taking a look at the havoc caused by plastic waste on the beach / Credit: Shirley Asiedu-Addo

The fishermen sounded frustrated by the dwindling stocks and the impact on their lives. They called for strict enforcement of laws against illegalities by industrial vessels.  It was interesting to note that the fishermen sounded ready to support efforts at saving fishery stocks.

However, there were some moments during our trip when fishermen sounded hostile to some of our journalists, claiming that nothing significant had been done about the plight of fishermen and the illegalities at sea, in particular, leading to worsening living conditions for them and their families. It was obvious that there was the need to push more reportage on issues to push the government to take drastic actions on the issue. Such interaction should not be one time. Journalists must continue to engage the fisherfolks in efforts to help restock the sea.

Overall, the fishermen were happy about the fact that there was a group of journalists committed to pushing the course of fishermen and the oceans in the local and national media.

 

Participating journalists taking a look at the havoc caused by plastic waste on the beach / Credit: Shirley Asiedu-Addo

JFRE CAMPAIGNING WORK ON PLASTICS

In line with the global theme on the World Oceans Day celebration the JRFE also urged members to look at the issue of plastics and its effects on the ocean, fisherfolks and fisher communities. JRFE as part of the celebrations called on the government to establish recycling plant in every region as part of the one district one factory policy of the current administration.  The proposal was made by members of JRFE following observation that the fishing communities were engulfed with filth particularly made up of plastics. Again, some of the fishermen had complained that they caught fish in their nets. Nana Bonsu of Moree alluded to the fact that some fishermen dumped plastic refuse into the ocean when they went fishing. It also came to light that there were no dustbins at shores so fishermen just dumped refuse at the shores. It must be noted that dealing with plastic pollution falls under the broader strategy of the JRFE on ensuring responsible fisheries and therefore educated the fishermen to ensure proper use of plastics and disposal of plastics.

 

STORIES SO FAR FROM PROJECT ACTIVITIES

Mr Joseph Ackon-Mensah- Citi FM Fishermen Call for Ban on Plastics Over Sea Pollution June 11, 2018 https://citinewsroom.com/2018/06/11/c-region-fishermen-call-for-ban-on-plastics-over-sea-pollution/

Sally Ngissah- Peace FM- June 16, 2018 Deal with Illegal Transshipment of Fish on Sea-Fishermenhttp://www.peacefmonline.com/pages/local/news/201806/354795.php?storyid=100&

 Kafui Kanyi-Ghana News Agency Enforce “August Closed Season” -Fishermen June 9, 2018 http://www.ghananewsagency.org/economics/enforce-august-closed-season-fishermen-133882

Shirley Asiedu-Addo-Daily Graphic Online Fisherfolks call on the government to check illegalities on sea June 11, 2018 https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/fisherfolks-call-on-government-to-check-illegalities-on-the-sea.html

Asana Gordon MyNewsGH- Journalists mark World Oceans Day June 10, 2018 https://mynewsgh.com/journalists-mark-world-oceans-day/

Kwame Malcolm EIB Network -Set Up a Plastic Recycling Plant in Each Region June 9, 2018

http://empirefmonline.com/2018/06/09/set-up-a-plastic-recycling-factory-in-each-region-journalists-for-responsible-fishing-and-environment-tell-government/

Afedzi Abdallah-Ghana News Agency- Deal With Illegal Transshipment on Sea-June 15, 2018 http://www.ghananewsagency.org/social/deal-with-illegal-transhipment-of-fish-on-sea-fishermen-134176

http://www.ghananewsagency.org/social/deal-with-illegal-transhipment-of-fish-on-sea-fishermen-134176