Accra, May 27, GNA - The Ministry if Fisheries on Friday asked the Director of Fisheries to suspend the permits of eight fishing vessels that had tampered with and wilfully damaged their transponders and/or painted their antennae to make communication with them impossible.
A statement issued by the Public Relations Department of the Ministry said steps should be made to bring the vessels to port. It said vessel owners would be made to pay for the cost of repairing or replacing damaged transponders and a penalty for wilfully causing damage would be imposed. "Vessel owners will also be made to bear the cost of arresting and bringing the vessels to port as appropriate."
The Vessel Monitoring System was commissioned in November last year to track the movement of fishing vessels, which operate in Ghana's territorial waters and especially the Exclusive Economic Zone. The Ministry noted that some vessel operators and captains had damaged the system thereby rendering them ineffective and useless. "Some operators and captains have used metallic paints to paint the antennae of the fishing vessels. Some have cut the cables, which connect the antennae to the transponders. "They have also forced some transponders open and changed the terminals causing damage to the equipment."
The Ministry said transponders, like electricity meters, were and remained government property, and so it was criminal to tamper with them to render them dysfunctional. The Ministry also said it had registered and licensed five pairs of pair trawlers to operate in Ghanaian waters, adding that companies and pair trawlers should be operated only in waters not less than 30 metres in depth. This is because, it said, information indicated that the gears of such pair trawlers were used to constantly destroy the gears operated by canoe fishermen.
The Ministry also warned that any proven acts of maltreatment of Ghanaian crew by foreign captains would be prosecuted. Some of their callous acts include crew being starved of food, threats with knives and hot water being poured on them. "These callous acts cannot be tolerated," the statement said.