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Uncontrolled Illegal Activities Threaten Ghana’s Fishing Sector

In Ghana, about 2 million people rely on these fish for their food and income

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Fishermen in the Nungua area of Accra wait for canoes to come in with their catches. (S. Knott for VOA) .VOA

On a beach in Ghana’s capital, Accra, fishermen from the Nungua community are waiting for the vibrantly painted canoes to return from sea with their catch of small fish to be sold at the local market.

In Ghana, about 2 million people rely on these fish for their food and income.  But trawlers, run almost exclusively by Chinese operators using Ghanaian front companies, are illegally targeting this staple catch and selling it back to local communities at a profit in a practice called saiko, according to a report from local NGO Hen Mpoano and the Environmental Justice Foundation.

Kofi Agbogah, director of the NGO, says saiko used to just be a regular practice where fishermen would meet trawlers at sea and exchange the trawler’s catch for goods they were carrying.

“Today it has become a multimillion-dollar business where trawlers are harvesting fish that they are not licensed to harvest and sell it back to some canoes — I will call those canoe business people,” he said. “They are not traditional fishers. They just go out there without nets, they buy the fish from the trawlers, and come and sell it in some designated ports.”

Illegal, Ghana, Fishing
On a beach in Ghana’s capital, Accra, fishermen from the Nungua community are waiting. Pixabay

Destroying livelihoods

The report found that in 2017, industrial trawlers caught almost the same amount of fish as the local fishing sector when illegal and unreported catches were taken into account. It also found the practice of saiko also destroyed the livelihoods of local fishermen.

Fisherman Frederick Bortey wants the government to banish those behind illegal fishing.

“My children are not getting money to go to school,” he lamented. “So it is very painful that we are talking about it. They can try and sack those people for us. We would like that, so we can fish, too, in our own country.”

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Bortey and his colleagues say they also face fellow fishermen undertaking illegal practices using fishing lights, where a light is beamed into the water to attract fish.

Ghana’s government says it is focused on tackling such issues. But if nothing happens soon, Agbogah warns that ordinary people will suffer.

“What happens if the fishermen don’t fish anymore?” He said their homes will become “coastal ghost towns” as young people “begin to move across the desert in an attempt to go to Europe.” (VOA)

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Illegal Extraction of Groundwater Becomes Punishabe Offence in UP

Under a New Act in UP, installing a rainwater harvesting system at government offices and departments is necessary

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UP
Groundwater Management and Regulation Act has come into force in UP to permanently resolve the receding groundwater crisis. Pixabay

The illegal extraction of groundwater will be a punishable offence in Uttar Pradesh under the UP Groundwater Management and Regulation Act 2019, which came into force on Friday.

Under the act, installing a rainwater harvesting system at government offices and departments is necessary.

“Groundwater Management and Regulation Act has come into force to permanently resolve the receding groundwater crisis. The bill will bring pace to the water conservation policy. The law will also help in reducing the water pollution,” said VK Upadhyay, Director, Uttar Pradesh Groundwater Department.

“As per the act, the installation of rainwater harvesting system at all government, semi-government, government-funded offices and private institutions has been made mandatory,” he added.

UP
Provisions have been made for Groundwater management in risk-prone areas in UP. Pixabay

He elaborated that under the law, provisions have been made for groundwater management in risk-prone areas. Besides, the law will ensure that no individual or institution pollutes groundwater, rivers or ponds.

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Upadhyay said that a list of regulations is being made for the time-bound implementation of several provisions of the Act. (IANS)