A Senior Lecturer at the Department of Marine and Fisheries Science at the University of Ghana, Dr. Angela Lamptey has cautioned that Ghana could soon be banned from exporting fish and fish products to the European Union (EU) if illegal fishing methods persist. She disclosed that the situation is getting dire as Ghana has already been issued a yellow card, indicating that the country practices unwholesome fishing methods which pose a danger to consumers and the environment. In addition, Ghana was cited as lacking effective monitoring systems and legal regimes to sanitise the fishing industry. “We fear other countries may follow suit if the EU goes ahead to ban our fish from their market and we may also lose foreign exchange earnings from that area”, she expressed the concern. Dr. Lamptey spoke after addressing stakeholders at the Iwatch Africa meet up with coastal communities in Ghana after it published a report on happenings in the industry. She assured that stakeholders in the sector are frantically working to reverse the trend, warning that another yellow card could badly hurt the country’s ratings. “We are putting in more efforts to make things right. We hope that the EU will assess us again and give the necessary recommendation where necessary” she said. She emphasized the need to for all partners to join forces and help the country avoid a ban. “We have done a lot of work in this regard and I can say that very soon Ghana may be out of this category else it will be a worry for many”.
Iwatch Report
According to Iwatch Africa the country’s local finishing industry is dominated by large scale vessel operators who are mostly foreigners. “Thirty-two percent of companies analyzed in Ghana’s fisheries sector were either owned or controlled by politically exposed persons (PEPs), with over 80 percent showing connections to Chinese ownership interests”. “Twenty-five (25) companies analyzed showed that no director and shareholder had filed their PEP status as required by law. The Registrar of Companies in Ghana had not prosecuted a single case of PEPs’ non-disclosure of status or beneficial ownership, despite promises of legal action made years earlier”, the report said. The development is said to be causing more harm to the country as many of the politically exposed persons and influential personalities in society continue to gain from the illegality.
Iwatch Africa further discovered that over 80 percent of companies licensed to operate fishing vessels in Ghana failed to declare beneficiary ownership, despite evidence of foreign ownership ties. Dr. Lamptey who is part of a steering committee advising the Minister for Fisheries on policy initiatives called for calm since moves are being made to reverse the situation. She noted that the Legal regime is undergoing some review which is expected in parliament soon for some inputs and further passage into a law to allow more punitive sanctions to culprits.