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03.09.2003 General News

Minister challenges reports of bumper fish harvest

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Tema, Sept. 3, GNA- Mr Edward Martey Akita, Minister of State for Fisheries on Tuesday dismissed claims by fishermen that there was bumper fish harvest this year.

He said inspection carried out by his officials at the various cold stores in Tema showed that 75 percent of cold stores at the fishing harbour were empty, "while some fishermen were shouting at rooftops of bumper harvest and throwing fish into the sea."

Mr Akita, who was speaking during his first official meeting with members of the National Association of Fishermen of Ghana (NAFAG) in Tema, said the claims of bumper harvest, made it look like the government was insensitive to the plight of fishermen by allowing imported fish, thereby frustrating the fishermen.

Mr Akita said his ministry has put in place methods to ensure that at no time should there be no fish in the system and continue to monitor fish catch at the port.

The Minister was not happy about some foreigners meting out cruel treatment to their Ghanaian employees and warned them to change for the better.

However, members of NAFAG, reiterated to the minister that there was enough catch during the season, and at times some fish had to be thrown away into the sea, because there inadequate storage facilities.

Nana William Buckman, former president of NAFAG explained that the fishermen could at times land about five boats with enough catch, but because they could not blast freeze the fish, they only sold what people could buy and throw the rest into the sea.

Nana Buckman who is the National Chairman of the Co-operative Fisheries Union said his union has a blast freezer plant, but the cost of electricity for its usage is so huge that it is not profitable to utilise it during bumper catch.

"We could assist the fishermen if the ministry offers the necessary financial support to run the plant so that fish catch could be kept in cold stores."

The fishermen also criticised the government for highly increasing fishing licence fees without consulting NAFAG, and appealed for subsidies on maritime gas oil, since some of the neighbouring countries are still selling such fuel far lower than what pertains in Ghana. Some of them held that while the fishing industry earns enough foreign exchange for the country, it is not given good treatment by the government. 03 Sept. 03

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