This year’s fishing closed season will be observed between July and August, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development has said.
While canoe and inshore fishers would observe the closed season between July 1 and 31, industrial trawlers would observe it from July 1 to August 31, it added.
Alternative livelihood training
At a stakeholders’ meeting to discuss the 2022 closed season report in Accra Thursday (April 13, 2023), the sector Minister, Mavis Hawa Koomson, said the ministry was engaging neighbouring countries in the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) to implement the fishing closed season at the same period.
She said fishery resources had been the economic backbone of the many fishing communities in the country for centuries; however, the fisheries sector was being threatened following the depletion of fish stock, as shown by low catches confirmed by fishers.
The decline in catches, she said, could be attributed to climate change, illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing, excessive fishing capacity, overfishing, among other factors.
The implementation of the closed season, she said, was part of a series of strategies to recover fish stock and ensure sustainable management of fisheries resources.
She stressed that the closed season gains would not be realised “if we all do not collectively combat IUU fishing activities”.
Presenting the report on the 2022 fishing closed season, the Director of the Fisheries Survey Scientific Division of the Fisheries Commission, Emmanuel Dovlo, said a socio-economic survey was conducted in four fishing communities, namely: Elmina, Keta, Sekondi and Tema, to find out the impact of the closed season on the livelihood of fisher folk.
He said an analysis of fish catch data and biological studies, where some species of fish were sampled on a monthly basis, showed that July and August were the best period for the observation of the closed fishing season.
“The landing of small pelagic species, round sardinella and anchovy were higher after the closed season,” he said.
He recommend that the seasonal closure should be accompanied by social protection for the fishing communities and training for livelihood alternatives, while fisheries enforcement measures must be enhanced to curb inappropriate methods of fishing.
The Board Chairman of the Fisheries Commission, Professor Francis Nunoo, said the benefits of the closed season would be reaped after years of effective implementation.
“The assessment, after last year’s implementation, has shown that there has been an improvement in fish catch. If we do it over the years, we will see the change. Following the 2022 fishing closed season, we are seeing that the sizes of the fish have improved and the harvested fishes have also laid eggs before they were caught,” he said.
The findings of the report, he said, would reinforce the benefits gained and build consensus among stakeholders on the importance of the closed season and adequately plan towards subsequent implementation.
Leaders of fisheries associations, including the National Fisheries Association of Ghana (NAFAG), the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council (GNCFC), the Ghana Inshore Fisheries Association (GIFA), the Ghana Industrial Trawlers Association (GITA) and the National Association of Fish Processors and Traders (NAFPTA), took turns to commend ministry and the Fisheries Commission for the successful implementation of the closed season, which was improving the lot of fishers and stakeholders who depended on the fishing industry.
In Ghana, the observance of the closed season is in accordance with Section 84 of the Fisheries Act, 2002 (Act 625).
This year’s fishing closed season is the seventh edition since the initial implementation in 2015.
Closed season, also known as biological rest period or no-harvesting period, is the halting of fishing activities during the spawning period of fish stocks when the fishes are most productive.
It also allows the fish a chance to lay their eggs towards the replacement of the lost population due to fishing and other natural causes.
Closed seasons are observed globally as a way of reducing fishing pressure on stocks and are considered one of the key fisheries management measures to help protect fish stock and also increase their population.