A press conference which was organised by the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council (GNCFC) in Accra on May 3, 2019, turned chaotic.
The meeting which was held to respond to issues regarding the 2019 nationwide closed season for artisanal fishery turned out sour as the fishermen were divided in their opinions as to what should be the appropriate timelines to observe the ban.
While some were in support of the announced timeline which takes effect from May 15, 2019, to June 15, 2019, others were not in favour and prefer it to begin in July to allow for adequate preparation to enhance compliance.
The VAG Hall in Accra which hosted the fishermen came to a boiling point as they failed to reach a consensus.
A section of the fishermen, wearing white armbands to represent their support for the announced date, threatened to disrupt the meeting if the executive of the GNCFC communicated otherwise, a threat which did not go down well with those with opposing views.
“The same executive kicked against the move last year and proposed that it was carried out this year. Even though some of us were not for it, we supported the postponement because we agreed that we had not adequately prepared.
“It is difficult for us to get a catch these days, owing to dwindling stock.
We believe that the only way to overcome this is to take the pain and observe the ban with immediate effect.
We will resist any attempt to change the date,” some of the fishermen stated.
“How do you expect us to lay down our tools in two weeks when no alternative means of livelihood exist for us.
It is important that we all agree on the postponement of the ban if we do not want to starve within the period,” others also stated.
The executives of the council stood helpless as they waited for calm to be restored since their members were hyper.
It took the intervention of members who were neutral to restore calm for the meeting to restart.
On April 10, 2019, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) announced that the 2019 closed season for artisanal fishery would take effect from May 15, 2019, to June 15, 2019.
The one-month ban is aimed at boosting the fish stock by increasing the species of fishes, including mackerel, that had dwindled drastically.
The Sector Minister, Ms Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, said the ministry had several engagements with the various stakeholders to arrive on the date, adding that the ministry would collaborate with the Ghana Navy to ensure strict compliance.
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