The fisheries sector remains a high-value sector with substantial investments from both foreign and local investors. However, the sector is also associated with much criminality and illegalities.
In Ghana, there are concerns about the continuous depletion of the fish stock with fishing boats often returning from sea empty, a situation which can be attributed to illegal fishing activities, as well as over-capacity across the industrial trawl and artisanal sectors.
Illegalities are thriving in the sector, partly because of the lack of effective monitoring and enforcement of the regulations. The arrest and prosecution of persons who indulge in such illegalities remain a major challenge.
Rampant IUU on the sea
More than 10 percent of Ghana’s population is engaged in the fisheries sector. According to the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD), the majority of those dependent on fisheries are artisanal fisher-folks and fishmongers.
However, Ghana’s fisheries sector is at risk due to widespread illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing which spans from indiscriminate use of chemicals and explosives by canoe fishermen to increase fish catch and light fishing by both small-scale and tuna vessels.
Saiko is a severely destructive form of illegal fishing, where industrial trawlers target the staple catch of artisanal fishers and sell this fish back to local coastal communities at a profit. This illegal activity continues unabated, threatening jobs and food security and endangering Ghana’s economy.
Saiko catches sold in 2017 alone, according to an Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) report, amounted to between US$40.6 and 50.7 million when sold at sea and to between US$52.7 and 81.1 million when sold at the landing site.