Madam Hawa Koomson, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, has disclosed that only 30 registered trawl fishing vessels in Ghana have been able to renew their licenses.
She disclosed this when she launched the piloting of the deployment of an Electronic Monitoring System (EMS) on fishing vessels to augment measures in fighting piracy and IIlegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing practices.
She noted that out of the 74 registered trawl fishing vessels, only 30 were able to meet the requirement for the renewal of their licences to go to sea.
She disclosed that after the 2022 close season, most of the vessels were unable to meet the gear specification and other seaworthy requirements from the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) to facilitate the renewal of their licences to operate.
“We can only renew their licenses after they have met the requirements; the Ministry depends on the clearance from the GMA before issuing the license,” she explained.
She said the gear specification directive was to prevent trawlers and tuna vessels from catching small pelagic fish and allow the juvenile fish to pass through the nets to help sustain the country’s depleting fish stocks.
Touching on the EMS, Madam Koomson said the pilot project was funded and technically supported, respectively, by the USAID Sponsored Ghana Fisheries Recovery Activity (GERA) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) at a cost of USD$250,000.
The Minister expressed optimism that by the end of December 2025, all the licensed fishing vessels would have the EMS deployed on them to help the Ministry, vessel owners, and partners monitor pirate activities.
It would also help check IUU fishing practices, transhipment at sea between trawlers and artisanal canoes, as well as the use of illegally modified gear to catch small pelagic fish and juvenile fish as bycatch and the dumping of fish at sea by the trawlers.
She said the EMS, which used onboard video cameras, the Global Positioning System (GPS), and sensors to automatically track and verify fishing activities on board fishing vessels, would help in data collection and enhance compliance with regulations.
She said it would complement existing measures being implemented by the Ministry, such as the Ministerial Directive on Trawl Gear, the application of VMS and AIS, port inspections, and the Observer programme.
Madam Koomson also urged industrial trawlers and artisanal fishermen to strictly comply with the upcoming closed season, which is expected to be observed by inshore fishermen between July 1, 2023, and July 31, 2023, while industrial trawlers will have theirs for two months, spanning from July 1, 2023, to August 31, 2023.
The Tuna vessels had however already had their closed season between January and March 2023.