The Ghana Tuna Association (GTA) at weekend maintained that the Fisheries and Aquaculture sector needs a Minister with in-depth knowledge about the industry in order to steer affairs, “the sector is not a glooming grounds for inexperienced personalities”.
A statement issued and signed by Mr John Davidson, GTA President at Tema explained that, “recent experiences have taught us that we need as stakeholders to pick the early signals and submit our concerns to the attention of the appointing authority.
“As stakeholders we need to raise the red flags for whatever remedy that may be available, in order to protect our industry and businesses from decisions that are likely to impact negatively and further collapse the sector”.
The Association explained that even though as an industry, they were willing to work with any person who was appointed as Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Minister at the pleasure of the President without raising any concern, unfortunately what unfolded at the vetting of the sector Minister designated must be a concern to all stakeholders.
The Association noted that the fisheries industry needed a minister with in-depth knowledge and passion, ‘the Pole and Line Sector’ has almost collapsed with only six of the 20 vessels currently active.
The Ghana Tuna Association said the causes of these challenge, were mainly due to the inability of the vessels to harvest live baits (anchovies) and high cost of operations including exorbitant license fees and high cost of marine gasoline.
“These are issue that can no longer wait and losing our pole and line fleet may not be looked as favourably by the international community. This is because pole and line fishing method is considered the most environmentally friendly and conservation compliant, giving its catches a premium pricing on the international market,” the statement stated.
The statement said the sector had for a long while relied on skilled crew from Korea to captain the vessels due to lack of skilled labour. The statement stressed that there was the need not just to train skilled crew but also deck sailors, a situation they noted required a leadership with in-depth appreciation of the sector and issues within the sector.
Another major concern, the statement identified was with the international relationships, explaining that the European Union and many interested countries regularly engaged Ghana on the many issues including Illegal Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing practices, international Trade Relationship and appeal for access to fish in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ).
“These are relations that are ongoing and will require that a Minister, once appointed should quickly develop the set skills for such engagements,” the statement added.
They concluded that emerging issues such as the blue economy with all its activities, including Hydrocarbon Extraction, Climate Change, Maritime Transport and piracy required a certain level of understanding of the sector in making a choice for the Minister responsible for Fisheries as the policy head.
“It is our humble opinion that our concern will be given the needed consideration in appointing the nominee for the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development,” the statement stated.
The Association has therefore petition the Speaker of Parliament and copied to the Chairman of the Appointment Committee of Parliament as well as other stakeholders in the industry to reconsider the sector minister designate.
The Association said looking at some of the peculiar challenges and engagements of the industry, vis-à-vis what transpired at vetting of the minister designate; “it was quite evident that the nominee may require longer than expected time to develop the needed passion and set skills to be the arrow head for such policy engagement.
“The Industry as well as the country are likely to suffer the consequences for any lapses that may arise”.67