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18.03.2009 Business & Finance

No renewal of pair trawling licence

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has reiterated that it will not renew any licence for pair trawling in the country.

It said any trawler caught doing pair trawling would be engaging in an illegality, a director of fisheries at the ministry, Mr Alfred Tetebo, told the Daily Graphic during a national consultative forum on the impact oil exploration activities would have on fisheries in the country.

He said pair trawling, initially engaged in by small canoes and vessels, later became a challenge, as bigger trawlers and vessels went into it and depleted marine resources.

He said to prevent controversy over what types of vessels could engage in pair trawling, the activity had been banned for all types of vessels.

In a speech read on his behalf at the forum organised by the Corporate Social Responsibility Movement (CSRM) and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), the Minister of Agriculture, Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, stressed the importance of both the fisheries sector and the oil industry to the country's economy.

He conceded that oil exploration in the country would have some impact on the fisheries sector.

Apart from ecological and environmental impacts, he said there would be conflict between fishermen and the oil companies, as the light and platform of oil rigs attracted fish and consequently fishermen to the area to fish, while the oil companies would be compelled to protect their investments and ensure the safety of people.

The minister said marine traffic envisaged in the country's territorial waters could also result in marine accidents but gave the assurance that the ministry was already examining all the issues for the relevant policy initiatives to overcome the challenges.

The ministry would also sensitise fishermen and liaise with the Attorney-General's Department to deal with limitations in the Fisheries Act that did not include measures to deal with oil spillage.

A speech read by a director of Petroleum at the Ministry of Energy, Mr Maxwell Appiagyei Gyamfi, on behalf of the Minister. Dr Oteng Agyei, also reiterated the fact that oil exploration activities would have an impact on the fisheries sector.

He said the government, however, had initiated a master plan for the oil sector and the requisite regulatory framework to help mitigate the effects.

He said the petroleum laws of the country outlined further measures in explorative ventures to protect the environment and the ecology of areas within exploration sites.

Dr Agyei reminded participants that both fishermen and oil companies had an interest in the sea and that it would be to their benefit to collaborate with each other.

The Resident Director of the FES, Ms Catherine Meissner, told the participants that the meeting was important because broad consultations on issues of national interest would lead to better outcomes for all.