Elmina Fishermen Cry To Government
Aggrieved members of the Elmina branch of the Ghana Inshore Fisheries Association (GIFA) and canoe fishermen from Abandze and Komenda, on Thursday appealed to the Government to allow them to use flash light to fish at least three months in a year. They said when they were allowed to use the method their livelihood would not be affected.Addressing a press conference at Elmina, they said even though the new fisheries law has banned fishing with light, pair-trawling, mono filament nets and “siko” fishing, enforcement of the law had not been fair. They said for instance that fishing with flash, which mostly were done by their members, had been singled out with strict enforcement and their members were being arrested and their canoes seized. The fishermen and fishmongers, clad in red bands on their foreheads and arms, questioned how their children would be fed and educated with their canoes seized and called on the Government to reconsider the fisheries law on flash light to enable them to fish with light from February to April every year. They alleged among others that pair-trawling had not stopped on the country’s waters and said also that during the 2010 Farmers Day celebration the organizers gave a fisherman a mono filament net, which had been banned by the law as an award. When the irate fishermen wanted to convey journalists in their canoes to witness pair-trawling activities on the Elmina high seas, they declined to go. Mr Kojo Sortoh Mensah, Secretary of the Elmina branch of GIFA, explained that it was not their desire to use flash light in fishing but due to the climate change with its attendant global warming, the temperature of the sea had shot up to 40 degrees Celsius thus fishes hardly surface on the sea in recent times. He said without the use of light they sometimes had to return empty handed from fishing.Mr Mensah, therefore, appealed to the Government to be lenient with them. The Chief Fisherman of Elmina, Nana Akonu I, also appealed to President Atta Mills to intervene in the matter because the fishing community would suffer if the law was strictly enforced.He also appealed for a fishing research boat to guide fishermen on their expeditions to avoid the situation where they would go on a “wild goose chase” during fishing. Mr Ekow Ntwafo, a member of the Association, said 8,000 out of the 13,000 canoes and an additional 500 boats along the country’s coastline use flash light to fish.According to him, if the issue was not dealt with expeditiously, it would bring untold hardships on the families of the affected fishermen. Meanwhile, some of the fishermen, who defied the orders of their leaders and went on demonstration that blocked the Takoradi-Accra highway, were dispersed by the police with a tear gas.