Cape Coast, Oct 16, GNA – An investigation conducted by Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), an international non-governmental organisation working to protect the environment, has revealed that about 90 per cent of Ghana’s industrial fishing fleet is linked to Chinese ownership.
This is despite the fact that laws in Ghana clearly forbid any foreign ownership or control of vessels flying its flag.
EJF has therefore called on the Chinese and Ghanaian governments to act swiftly to eradicate the illegal fishing practices, which were rife in Ghana’s industrial fleet, improve transparency and sanction those contravening ownership laws.
These were contained in a statement issued and signed by Daisy Brickhill, Communications and Press Officer of EJF and copied to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Cape Coast on Monday.
It said, there was the need for the two governments to swiftly identify Chinese ownership in Ghana’s industrial fleet and ensure that all arrangements complied with all fisheries, company and tax laws.
It said to tackle illegal fishing; both governments must thoroughly investigate suspected cases, and impose sanctions tough enough to deter offenders.
“With the balance of control invariably resting with the Chinese investor, such arrangements clearly contravene the purpose of the legislation, if not the letter of the law.
“The result is a complete lack of transparency as to who is responsible for illegal actions, and who controls and benefits from Ghana’s industrial trawl fleet,” the statement said.
It said new vessels continued to arrive from China, despite a moratorium on new industrial trawlers entering Ghanaian waters to address vast over-capacity and severe depletion of fish stocks.
Earlier this year, China launched a crackdown on illicit activities of Chinese operators in West Africa, withdrawing subsidies and fishing licences from three Chinese companies involved in illegal fishing in the Region.
This, the statement said must consolidate the progress in Ghana and thereby demonstrate leadership in combating the global scourge of illegal fishing.
“Crucially, both China and Ghana can secure wide-ranging economic and environmental benefits by making an active commitment to transparency”.
“To do this, lists of all fishing vessels licensed to fish under Ghanaian and Chinese flags should be published online, along with details of all cases of illegal fishing and the sanctions imposed, the ownership of all industrial vessels operating in Ghana, and who actually profits from them, should be public knowledge,” it said.
“With this new information about the Ghanaian fisheries, China can, and should, adopt a leadership role, working with the Ghanaian government to ensure that laws are upheld, and that Ghanaian fisheries are both legal and sustainable.
“Failure to take such action will see the further declines and the possible collapse of these fisheries, leading to great suffering across coastal communities,” the statement added.