Local inland fishermen across the country are to adopt alternative fishing practices towards the conservation of the depleting fish stock in a move that seeks to sustain their livelihood.
The fishermen who have come together to form the Volta Inland Fishermen Association [VIFA], have resolved to use aquaculture, animal husbandry and dry season farming to restore the country’s dwindling fishery stock.
The use of unapproved fishing nets and other chemicals by the fishermen over the years have depleted the country’s fish stock both in fresh water and marine sources.
This has led to a fall in the annual fish catch from 120,000 metric tonnes in 2000 to 17,000 metric tonnes in 2012. Meanwhile the demand for fish in Ghana now exceeds supply by 360,000 tonnes.
Despite these the number of artisanal fishing canoes alone have increased to more than 13,000 in 2014.
The depletion of the fish stock has rendered some fishermen jobless and others poor, forcing some of them to adopt alternative means of survival to the detriment of the environment.
Communities in Dzemeni and environs in the Volta Region for instance have resorted to charcoal burning, thus reducing the already depleted forest cover and tree belt along the Volta Lake.
Other countries facing similar challenges have been able to rebuild their fisheries into healthy and vibrant resources to provide more jobs, food and profits than they inherited.
The VIFA hopes to explore similar measures to solve Ghana’s depleting stock using various measures including the enforcement of the fishery laws, diversification from open fishing to aquaculture, dry season farming, animal husbandry and trade skills.
It also seeks to promote pension savings among the fisher folks who are not captured under the country’s SSNIT and other formal pension schemes.
Another key focus of VIFA is to promote education among the fisher folks in all the inland fishing communities across the country with the view to ensuring children in those communities are not deprived of their rights.
VIFA was outdoored Thursday at Dzemeni in the South Dayi District of the Volta Region at which the national chairman of the association, Sampson Mahu, noted the coordinated effort would serve as security for members to meet loan and other capital requirement to better their lives.
An educationist and queen of Mafi Aflukope, Mama Vuide, urged the fisher folks to endeavour to educate their wards and urged women to resists attempts at forcing children into fishing other than other sectors where their expertise would be needed.
District Chief Executive of South Dayi, Semenu Kafui Bekui, condemned the increasing number of children in child labour on the Volta Lake and urged the association to partner existing and ongoing efforts to eradicate the practice.
Volta Regional Director of Fisheries, Francis Akorlor, welcomed the new initiative and pledged his total support for all their activities in order to turn the dwindling fortunes around.
Deputy Volta regional minister, Francis Ganyaglo, asked the fisher folks to desist from irresponsible behaviour and disregards for rule of law.
By Peter Adattor|TV3|3news.com|Ghana