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15.05.2008 General News

Our Doors Are Opened For Constructive Dialogue- Minister

By ISD (Tony Goodman)

The Minister for Fisheries, Hon Gladys Asmah, yesterday reiterated that her ministry's doors were always opened and ready to engage the leadership of the Joint Action Pair Trawling (JAAPT) in a constructive dialogue to find lasting solution to complaints on behalf of their membership.

'The leadership has overtime not deemed it expedient to come to discuss or advise the ministry about any issue. Embarking on a demonstration, we believe, should be a last resort when solutions could not be found, the minister added.

Mrs Gladys Asmah was speaking at the Meet-the-Press series in Accra. This was in reaction to a petition by the JAAPT to the Ministry of Fisheries on issues raised about some foreign fishing vessels were engaged in pair trawling activities.

Other concerns raised included fishing light, inauguration of the Fisheries Commission and influx of Chinese Foreign Vessels in the country's territorial waters.

The Minister was of the view that mass demonstration or protests would not solve the problems being complained about, 'it is dialogue and understanding which will bring about an amicable settlement'.

She noted that her ministry has banned the use of generator and special lights being used by fishermen adding it was a criminal offence and that the Fisheries Act 625 of 2002 states that anything or device which renders fish easily caught is proscribed and punishable by law.

According to her, the canoe fishermen who accused the Inshore Fishermen of fishing with light took the law into their own hands by physically fighting and seizing a generator which was found.

'The ministry intervened by requesting the police and the Navy to arrest all culprits who would be caught in the act,' the minister emphasised.

On the 8th of May Daily Graphic published statements from Trawler Operators of the country saying they do not do pair trawling. However, she observed that the company accused of pair trawling denied indulgence in that activity she told the media.

'Pair trawling in particular has been of great concern to the ministry since its establishment about three and half years ago',,said the minister

According to her, various systems have been put in place including the introduction of Vessel Monitoring Systems to track down this and other illegal methods of fishing in the country.

She pointed out that all the expatriate fishermen were employees of Ghanaian Vessel owners and companies and that urgent steps were being taken to reverse their continued engagement.

'The answer is to create our own body of specialised fishermen equipped with the rare skills that modern fishing requires,' she said.

She was surprised at the action initiated by the Joint Action Pair Trawling because all the allegations contained in their letter were simply untrue.

Mrs Asmah announced that by July this year the construction of fourteen Landing Sites and habours would begin.

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