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04.07.2004 General News

Maame Efua Etsiwah launched in Sekondi

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Sekondi Jul 4, GNA - Mr Eddie Akita, Minister of State for Fisheries, on Saturday said there has been a decline in the country's fish production in recent times.

He was launching a one point five billion-cedi "Maame Efua Etsiwah - EL 212", a 70-footer wooden fishing vessel belonging to Opanyin Ekow Kotu, 2003 National Best Fisherman, at the Albert Bosomtwe-Sam Fishing Harbour, at Sekondi.

Mr Akita said the decline was especially in the marine sector, adding that, the country currently imported about 200 million dollars worth of fish every year.

He said suitable dry dock facilities for the maintenance and repair of vessels existed in the country but expressed concern about some illegal and unacceptable fishing practices.

He noted that although fishery resources are renewable, they are not infinite and stressed the need to be properly manage them if their contribution to the economy was to be sustained.

Mr Akita said the Ghana Navy and the district assemblies have been charged to monitor the activities of fishermen to ensure that they did not engage unacceptable fishing practices and stated that offenders would be arrested and prosecuted.

He said the Directorate of Fisheries had put in place measures to help halt the declining trend in marine fishing while efforts had been stepped up to support the growth of Aquaculture.

The Minister of State said measures had also been taken to reduce post harvest losses with facilities at the Albert Bosomtwi-Sam Fishing Harbour to assist in the better handling of landed fish in a cleaner environment, reduce spoilage and ensure better quality and safe fish for domestic consumption and export.

Madam Sophia Horner-Sam, Deputy Western Regional Minister, said one of the difficult features of the fishing industry is over-production during the peak season and scarcity at other time

She said it has not been possible for fishermen to preserve their surplus catch for use during the lean season due to lack of proper and adequate storage and processing facilities.

Madam Horner-Sam said the government was doing everything possible to encourage agro-processing so that during bumper harvest. She said the Ministry of Food and Agriculture was also working hard to ensure good fisheries management and the enforcement of existing Fisheries Laws and Regulations to bring sanity into the industry.

The Deputy Regional Minister spoke of interventions to reduce poverty in fishing communities in the Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions and said they would continue until the standard of living of fishermen had been brought up to an appreciable level.