Ghana: Fight “Galamsey” on the high seas!
On the other hand, the fight against illegal mining, also known as “Galamsey”, is the twin problem of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
These two swords of Damocles hung above our necks: the galamsey, which is prominent on land, and the INNa form of “collecting and selling” (galamsey) which is conducted nicodemically ashore by foreign ships in active connivance. with local ships.
Chinese vessels are said to be leading the transshipment, known in local parlance as Saiko, an illegal deep-sea fishing trade.
Large industrial trawlers engage in a form of informal trading system where unwanted catches are exchanged on the high seas for food, fruit and livestock brought in by canoes.
Industrial trawlers, largely Chinese, target fish specifically for Saiko’s trade, which involves small pelagic species such as sardinella, mackerel, shrimp, sea bream and croaker, as well as tuna in high demand for local consumption.
These illegal catches include large quantities of juvenile fish which are frozen in blocks and transshipped at sea to specially adapted Saiko canoes, unloaded at ports for sale along the coast and in inland markets, according to a study “The Problem”. with “Saiko”, an ecological and human catastrophe “, by Far Dwuma Nkodo produced within the framework of the Securing Sustainable Fisheries project.
In an article on “The cost of the illicit trade in West African marine resources”, Professor Rashid Sumaila of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit (Global Fisheries Cluster), University of British Columbia in Vancouver , Canada underscored the need to “leverage resources, both regionally and continentally, to combat illegal and unreported fishing, especially those that fuel illegal trade. “
“In some cases, we need leadership at national, regional and continental levels to ensure that Africa’s rich natural resources benefit the people living in Africa,” postulated Professor Sumaila.
He estimated that Ghana loses $ 46.1 million in net income annually due to the illegal fish trade estimated at 97,000 tonnes.
Saiko is illegal in Ghana, punishable by a fine of between $ 100,000 and $ 2 million when juvenile fish are traded or use prohibited fishing gear.
But are the laws enforceable? How dissuasive have the laws been over the years?
“The sanctions imposed by Ghana on vessels engaged in or supporting IUU fishing activities are not effective and do not constitute an adequate deterrent”, said the European Commission in the “yellow card” addressed to Ghana.
Ghana’s fishing industry employs around 2.4 million people, representing 10 percent of the population, generating more than $ 1 billion in income per year.
It accounts for 4.5 percent of Ghana’s gross domestic product, providing 60 percent of the animal protein consumed in Ghana.
However, the Saiko threat and associated IUU fishing militate against the sustainable management of fisheries, placing the country on the “yellow list” of the European Commission, the world’s largest importer of fishery products.
The Commission, which leads the fight against IUU fishing around the world, has issued a “yellow card” warning to Ghana that it risks being identified as a non-cooperative country in the fight against unreported illegal fishing and unregulated, basing its warning on allegations of “Ghana’s inability to meet its obligations under international law as a flag, port, coastal or market State”.
European Commission Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius, in a June 2, 2021 statement seen by the Ghanaian Times, said: “Commission defends zero tolerance for fishing INN. Ghana plays an important role in the governance of fisheries in West Africa. Therefore, we are ready to work with Ghana to address the threats that IUU fishing poses to the sustainability of fish stocks, coastal communities, food security and the profits of fishermen and women who play by the rules. key to better ocean governance. “
Under the unenviable label of “yellow card”, Ghana should take the necessary measures to combat IUU fishing (“galamsey on the high seas”) – as part of its international obligations.
The European Commission has identified Ghana’s shortcomings as transshipments at sea of large quantities of undersized juvenile pelagic species between industrial trawlers and canoes in Ghanaian waters; deficiencies in the monitoring, control and surveillance of the fleet; and a legal framework that is not aligned with relevant international obligations to which Ghana has subscribed.
The global annual value of IUU fishing is estimated at 10-20 billion euros. Between 11 and 26 million tonnes of fish are caught illegally each year, which represents at least 15 percent of global catches.
One of the cardinal pillars of the EU “IUU regulations” which entered into force in 2010 is a catch certification system which guarantees that “only legally caught fishery products can enter the European market”.
Since November 2012, the Commission has engaged in formal dialogues with 27 Third World countries and warned them to take effective action to combat IUU fishing.
According to him, “Only a few countries have not shown the necessary commitment to reform so far.”
The regulation also provides for “specific dialogue mechanisms with countries that fail to meet their obligations as flag, coastal, port and market states under international law. Meanwhile, failure to cooperate with the framework for dialogue may lead to the country being identified as a so-called red card. “
The dialogues are based on cooperation and support to countries and constitute an important step in the fight against IUU fishing, sanctions, including trade bans, being only a last resort.
As part of the European Green Agreement and in line with the United Nations’ sustainable development objective for the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, sea and marine resources, the Commission is committed to adopting an approach zero tolerance for IUU fishing.
Combating IUU fishing is an important aspect of the objective of the EU biodiversity strategy to protect the marine environment. The Strategy for Africa highlights the fight against IUU fishing as one of the key issues to be addressed with African partners.
The yellow card offers Ghana the opportunity to rectify the situation within a reasonable period of time to restore its international image and reap the benefits of sustainable fisheries management, such as the estimated annual loss of $ 46.1 million in net income due to the illegal fish trade estimated at 97,000 tonnes. , will be reversed.
Indeed, Ghana had already received a “yellow card” in November 2013, which was then lifted in October 2015, after the country remedied the shortcomings.
Going back is not good for our image, as Ghana co-chairs the United Nations Panel of Eminent Persons to Support the Campaign to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Prevented is warned; we must avoid the red card and be seen fighting the “galamsey fight” on the high seas, where the worst happens, winning the battle and having our name removed from the yellow card list.