Improvements needed in fisheries act on closed season -Tema East MP Ashai Odamtten

Mr Isaac Ashai Odamtten, the Member of for East, has called for enhancements to address gaps identified in the Fisheries Act 2002 (Act 625) regarding the closed season for fishing.

He appealed to the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture and the Fisheries Commission to promptly work on refining Section 84 of the Act to ensure its effective implementation.

In an interview with the , Mr Odamtten highlighted certain ambiguities in the Act concerning the closed season that require attention to provide clarity to fishermen.

His appeal follows a report from four constituents who encountered difficulties with their outboard motors, preventing them from returning before the start of the closed season, which commenced on July 1, 2023.

The four individuals were intercepted by Naval personnel aboard a Ghana Navy Vessel (GNS) P36 at the breakwaters, who confiscated their catch and allegedly mistreated them for contravening the closed season law.

Mr Odamtten emphasized the need to establish clear protocols for cases where fishermen are already at sea before the closed season begins, suggesting that they should be allowed to return home with their catch.

He further stated that if such fishermen are not permitted to return after the closed season begins, proper awareness campaigns should be conducted to educate them about refraining from fishing activities in the days leading up to the official closure.

Mr Odamtten condemned the mistreatment of the four fishermen by Naval personnel, expressing his intention to engage the Chief Fisherman and Navy Command to ensure thorough investigations and appropriate actions against the perpetrators.

Section 84 of the Fisheries Act, 2002 (Act 625) specifies that the Fisheries Commission has the authority to declare closed seasons for fishing in designated areas of coastal waters or river systems.

The Act mandates that such declarations receive reasonable publicity and be communicated in advance of the closed season.

Violation of the closed season regulations constitutes an offence punishable by fines ranging from $500,000 to $2 million, depending on the type of fishing vessel involved.

Additionally, the offender may face penalties ranging from one hundred penalty units to five hundred penalty units, with the possibility of forfeiture of catch, fishing gear, vessel, or other equipment used in the commission of the offence to the Republic.

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