The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) is collaborating with the Ghana Maritime Authority to ensure that human rights violations against fishermen on board fishing vessels in Ghanaian waters are dealt with.
Additionally, all fishing vessels cleared to fish in Ghanaian waters are directed to insure their vessels and update them to ensure the safety of all crew members.
Speaking in an interview with Graphic Online on the sidelines of the 14th Session of the West Central Gulf of Guinea Fisheries Committee Ministerial Conference which ended on Friday, January 13, 2023 in Accra, Madam Hawa Koomson said no one has the right to abuse any Ghanaian fisheries observer on any vessel.
14th Session of the Conference of Ministers of the Fisheries Committee of the West Central Gulf of Guinea, in person and online: “Supporting Effective Fisheries Management for a Sustainable Blue Economy.”
The conference was attended by fisheries ministers or their representatives from six FCWC member countries (Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Liberia, Benin and Cote d’Ivoire).
During the session the participants discussed the topic, reviewed the results of the last year and agreed on the work plan and budget for 2023/2024.
The FCWC was established in 2007 to promote and facilitate cooperation in fisheries management among member countries.
To Madam Hawa Koomson, abusing any fishing observer means abusing the authority that puts the observer on board.
“…because if you insult the viewers, it is me, the minister, you are insulting because they are representing me on board the expedition,” he noted.
The fisheries minister said it is a concern that fishermen or observers on fishing vessels are being abused, saying “you cannot abuse observers”.
According to her, the Marine Police is still investigating a Ghanaian fisheries observer who went missing on a fishing vessel some years ago.
That, Madam Hawa Koomson, noted that the ministry has not lost track of the case and will put more pressure on the police to speed things up.
He said the new directives on the safety of observers and fishermen, as well as efforts to prevent human rights abuses on board ships, will help improve the well-being of all fishing crews on board any vessel in Ghanaian waters.
He explains that according to the new arrangements with the Ghana Maritime Authority, all fishing vessels will be rigorously inspected under various checklists before being allowed to sail.
For her, all 19 vessels currently fishing in Ghanaian waters have good places for their crew to sleep and cook.
Madam Hawa Koomson said that when vessels arrive at ports, they are inspected and fisheries observers are interrogated to find out if anyone has physically or verbally abused them.
“When the vessels arrive, we call the observers and ask them if they have been abused,” he said.
He noted that earlier the watchers were not given fish when they returned from the sea but now they are given a portion of the catch.
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