WINNEBA, Ghana, June 25 (Xinhua) -- Livelihoods of artisanal fishermen along Ghana's coast face severe threats posed by the activities of pair-trawlers in Ghanaian waters.
These pair-trawlers (using two fishing vessels with nets set in between them) are not only scrapping the ocean floor, leaving nothing for local canoe fishermen to harvest, but also deliberately destroying their fishing gear.
Speaking to Xinhua at Winneba early this week, fishermen urged authorities to intensify action against the pair-trawling which has become their major headache.
"They harvest everything in the ocean, and even the fingerlings that should be allowed to mature for harvest in future are all scrapped away by these pair-trawlers," Emmanuel Annor, a fisherman in Winneba told Xinhua.
The fisherman lamented that he and his colleagues found it difficult now to send their children to school since their only source of income was being destroyed.
The government of Ghana has over the years been struggling to control or prevent the activities of pair-trawlers in order to protect fishery livelihoods.
However, Annor says the authorities have been looking on unconcerned while these activities are carried out with impunity.
Nenyi Muni Kaako, local chief fisherman, said they are tired of talking about the issue of illegal fishing methods in Ghana's exclusive economic zone waters which tend to deprive locals of their daily bread.
Ghana's Fisheries Act makes it an offence for industrial and semi-industrial fishing vessels to encroach on the inshore economic zones, or areas close to the coast.
But Kaako told Xinhua that these vessels did fish in the shallow waters reserved for the canoe fishermen.
"They even destroy our nets, and our boats while fishing here. But we cannot go to the high seas to fish, and even a few who attempt to go there are met with resistance from these pair-trawlers who sometimes pull guns at our fishermen," he added.
He therefore urged that authorities take far-reaching steps to protect the sector from the wantonness of the illegal activities.
As of 2011, the fisheries generated about 1.0 billion cedis in revenue for Ghana annually.
Around the same time, fisheries contributed 4.5 percent to annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the West African country, and indirectly supported the livelihoods of 2.2 million people, according to government data. Enditem