Dynamiting the fish for consumption

| Updated Oct 18, 2017 at 9:49am



Illegal Fishing practices continue to affect fish production in Ghana. Many have attributed decline in fish production to unauthorized fishing activities.

Dynamite fishing has gained ground in some fishing communities. Kpong in the Eastern Region is one such community along the Volta River where this form of illegal fishing method is used.

Dynamite is an explosive technology used in the mining and quarry industry to blast rocks. According to experts it is a composition of nitroglycerin, diatomaceous earth and a small admixture of sodium carbonate. This is detonated into the lake killing at once fishes within certain kilometers where the explosive can reach.

It is said that less than fifty percent of the fish “bombed” with this method is salvaged. The residual fish which are usually dismembered cannot be collected for sale. Every living organism within the zone of the dynamite also dies.

According to residents people who engage in the practice also often get injured in the process.

The practice in the area is as a result of easy access to the explosive materials. There are many quarry companies alone the Tema-Akosombo highway around Shai-Hills where the dynamite is used in blasting rocks to produce chippings for construction purposes. Those who engage in the act have threatened to kill anyone who crosses their path either to stop them or report them to the law enforcement agencies.

Available scientific evidence shows gradual decrease in the stocks of fish within Ghana’s fisheries waters due to increasing fishing efforts and the use of illegal fishing methods such as light fishing, use of unapproved fishing nets and gears, pair trawling and the use of the explosives.

Despite Ghana’s huge potential in the Fisheries sector it is unable to produce to meet national fish demands. The country imports over 600,000 metric tonnes of fish whiles it produces less than 400,000 metric tonnes annually. Last year alone, Ghana reportedly imported $135 million worth of fish. 11.3% of fish produced in Ghana comes from Aquaculture, Inland production constitute 18.1% while marine production is 70.6%.

The attainment of Goal 14 of the Sustainable Development Goals which talks about Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development will be difficult if negative fishing practices such as dynamite fishing persist.

Blackmore Yorhokpor, a Chief fisherman at Kpong Harbor Landing Beach is worried about the attitude of the law enforcement agencies towards the negative practice. “The dynamite issue we’ve talk about it at various places. Our voices have reached where it can reach but still the people are engaging in the practice. Even today when I went to fishing they were blasting it so close to the Kpong hydro-electric Dam, nothing is being done about it.” He said the practice is very dangerous and may be killing innocent people who buy the fish from those who use the dynamite to catch the fish, explaining that it is not easy identifying the fish caught using the approved methods from the ones harvested through blasting.

Mr. Yorhokpor called for the establishment of a permanent station for the Navy in the area to help stop the practice. He said any time the practice is reported to the law enforcement agencies they request for evidence. “We can’t go and catch somebody we are not police. The perpetrators have been monitoring us and sometimes they tell us if we try they will kill us.” Mr. Yorhokpor the anti-dynamite fishing crusader cries.

An Assistant Director in charge of the Akosombo Zone of the Fisheries Commission Mrs. Janet Gyogluu Anchirinah who oversees six districts in the Eastern Region said the dynamite fishing; apart from it being injurious to the fishermen some of them can even be killed while using the explosive. She said the water is polluted with the chemicals and may affect the water that is produce at the Kpong water works for onwards distribution to Accra and its environs. She was also concerned about the blasting the explosive close to the national asset, Kpong Hydro-electric Dam it can break the Dam. To this end she said the Volta River Authority VRA has participated in some educational programmes to bring to the fore the possible effect of their activities on the Dam.

The Fisheries Enforcement Unit have been coming around and anytime they come around they illegal fishers stop the dynamite fishing but when the officers are not around then they go back to the practice. To address the issue efforts are being made to provide a permanent station and patrol task force made of the monitoring control and surveillance unit of the fisheries Commission, the Ghana Navy and the Marine Police on the lake.

“The fishermen are talking about low catches, if you use the dynamite, it doesn’t discriminate it destroys all the fish and other organisms around so you are not giving the fish chance to reproduce and replace what you caught. Such methods are destroying their own livelihood so it will be in their interest to do the right thing so that they can sustain the fish. Because it is for their own good which they don’t seem to realize that they are destroying the very thing that they depend on.” Mrs. Janet Gyogluu Anchirinah beseeched the fishermen.

The Chief Fisherman the Tema Newtown Canoe Landing Beach Nii Adjetey Mator said the fishers in the Tema area have stopped light fishing but the practice persists in other fishing communities. He was unhappy about what he termed discrimination in the enforcement of the law against illegal fishing practices.

The Member of Parliament for Ada Comfort Doyoe Cudjoe-Ghansah was worried about lack of education on the illegal fishing practices. “Don’t enforce the law illegally; the law says there should be no light fishing, we agree, have you gone down to educate the people? If there is even arrest on the high sea we expect that you should bring them for the law to take its course. The people are being beating, people are being brutalized and if they attacked them on the high sea some of them jump into the sea and they don’t survive and again.”

She stated that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Elizabeth Afoley Quaye as a Member of Parliament should know that the enforcement of the law doesn’t allow brutalization. “They should bring them to book but they should stop the beatings. They should do the proper things at the coastline for us to have out peace. The whole Ada, Sege and Prampram, there is pandemonium everywhere” she observed.

The secretary to the Tema Newtown Canoe Owners Association Adjetey Tawiah emphasized the need for the laws against illegal fishing should be enforced. He said if we are dealing with natural resources we should put politics aside because when you go against nature you will suffer. Looking into the future Mr. Tawiah says “We should do it in such a way that our generation and generation after us will come and benefit. But if those of us alive now and we are taking all the species from the sea, our children and their children what are they going to eat?”

The Goal 14.4 envisage that by 2020, countries should effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics. This report was put together with support from Media Foundation for West Africa and UNDP.

Story by Dominic Hlordzi