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24.05.2006 General News

Acute shortage of tuna fish hits Tema


Tuna, the favourite fish for most homes in the country is conspicuously missing from the Tema Fishing Harbour and the central market for about ten days now.

Fish mongers could not have an answer to the shortage, when GNA asked, they said the situation had been experienced before in previous years, "but this time round it is so serious that we cannot lay hands on even one piece".

Tuna, in its fresh or smoked form, is suitably for palm soup and palaver sauce. Some mothers interviewed said because of its size just a little piece was sufficient for large family.

In view of the situation, the fishmongers have taken advantage and are offering just two small pieces of herrings and salmon for 5,000 cedis. For the two days that the GNA followed the situation, mothers were seen moving to and fro the market, hoping to get some better fish but to no avail.

When contacted Mr John Augusts Farmer, president of the Ghana Tuna Association confirmed the shortage on the local market and said currently, fishing was very poor due to the climatic condition, which was not peculiar to the Atlantic, Pacific and the Indian oceans. Mr Farmer, who is the Managing Director of Agnespark Fisheries Limited at Tema also attributed the situation to the high price of marine gas oil, which currently sells at over 650 dollars per kilo litre. This takes about 65 to 70 per cent of capital expenditure of the boat owners and described this as being on the higher side. "Because of this, most vessel owners, who do not have money to buy the gas oil prefer tying up the vessels to undertake repair works instead of going to sea and make loses".

He claimed the fish processing companies contributed to the shortage, as they determined the price of tuna, which they always wanted to buy at the lowest price to the disadvantage of the boat owners. Mr Farmer pointed out that the few fishing vessels in the system, which were even old and could not go very far for fishing expedition, had been the greatest hindrance, saying that, tuna was strong and as a migratory type of specie, it moved far away and the more the vessels chase it the more they consume gas oil, which "we cannot afford at the present price".

He said a tuna vessel spent about 40 days on fishing expedition. Currently, he said, there were only 25 "pole and line" and 10 "purse-seiner" type of tuna vessels in the system, most of which could not travel far because of their condition.

The president however, gave hope to consumers as some tuna vessels were expected soon, saying that, by law between 20 and 30 per cent of every catch were sold on the local market.

Mr Kwaku Antwi-Boasiako, Human Resource Manager of Pioneer Food Cannery had also complained that the company is faced with shortage of tuna, which is the raw material of the company's processing production, as they compete with the local market for its consumption.