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29.11.2005 General News

Vessel Monitoring System commissioned

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Tema, Nov. 29, GNA - Ghana imports 300,000 metric tonnes of fish products annually to cater for the annual consumption of 700,000, as against its 400,000 metric tonnes annual production. The Minister for Fisheries, Mrs Gladys Asmah, disclosed this on Tuesday in Tema, when she commissioned a three million pounds Vessel Monitoring System (VMS).

The Satelite Tracking Device designed by Blue Finger, a British Designer Firm, would monitor all Ghanaian licensed vessels wherever they would be.

According to the Minister, fishing activities in the marine takes place in the narrow continental shelf area of about 24,300 kilometres squared and stressed the need to protect the area to ensure sustainability of the fishery resources and general viability of the industry.

She was optimistic that the system would help reduce the conflict between artisanal fishermen and the industrial vessels, whiles vessels, which violate the 30 metres depth rule could be apprehended and brought to justice.

It would also ensure a total compliance of the fishing industry, as the dwindling fish stock would recover to make the industry more profitable and sustainable for the benefit of the nation, she added. Mrs Asmah, however, called on the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), Customs, Navy, Police, Judiciary and the District Assemblies to assist in the enforcement of the fisheries law. The British High Commissioner, Mr Godon Wetherell, commended the country for such an initiative and assured Ghana of Britain's continuous support in terms of training, especially to make it a success. He said marine resources have the potential to provide revenue and other economic benefits to the country.

The Chairman of the Blue Finger project, Mr John O'connor, said the poaching of fish stock in developing countries have been neglected for a long time, adding that, about four billion dollars were lost through such acts world wide.

With the VMS, the trend could be reduced and this would also enable the country to manage its resources well, he added. He also stressed the need for aircrafts and marine vessels to monitor the activities of poachers for arrest.

In his welcoming address, the Director of Fisheries, Mr Alfred Tetebo, explained that the system has the capacity of tracking all vessels registered under the Ghana Flag and fitted with the transponder would be monitored.

He said vessels that enter a prohibited zone or leave Ghana's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) could be tracked.