Second meeting of the Ports Task Force Ghana

By Stop Illegal Fishing:4th Mar, 2020: Port State Measures to Stop Illegal Fishing

The Ports Task Force Ghana (PTFG), established to support the implementation of port State measures to stop illegal fishing, held its second meeting in Tema on the 25th February 2020.

The one-day meeting was convened by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MOFAD) and brought together representatives from ten agencies involved in port controls for fishing vessels.

Opening the meeting Mr Alex Sabah, Director of the Monitoring Control and Surveillance Division (MCSD), Fisheries Commission stated, “Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a global pandemic and we have to work together to protect Ghana.  The cost to our nation is enormous”. He further highlighted the importance and conclusions from the first meeting where the framework for cooperation and information sharing was established.  The objective for this second meeting was to find practical solutions for further implementation and cooperation.

The National Coordinator of Ghana’s Fisheries Enforcement Unit, Osre Osei Bonsu Asante, said, “We need cooperation, one cannot stop illegal fishing alone. Let’s depend on each other. We have a common objective that we can achieve.”

The focus of discussions was on improving the process for receiving and sharing advance requests for entry to port (AREPs). Communication between the Ghana Port and Harbour Authority and the MCSD is critical. Mr JD Kotze, Stop Illegal Fishing MCS Expert said, “Getting the AREP to the right people in good time for background checks to be made on the vessel and its operators is crucial for effective port State measures. This is what allows for risk assessment, the identification of high-risk vessels, and informs decision making on whether or not to allow port access.”

The meeting identified potential improvements to the current port entry systems, and developed plans to implement these.  The General Manager of the Fishing harbour in Tema Port, Kwabena Asamoah, said: “We will ensure that the harbour master who interfaces with the fishing vessels will attend all subsequent PTFG meetings.”

By bringing all the relevant agencies together the Ports Task Force Ghana is making real progress in addressing the practical challenges that fisheries MCS officers face in identifying and taking enforcement against illegal fishing.

Per Erik Bergh, Stop Illegal Fishing Coordinator, commented, “The Ports Task Force Ghana is demonstrating just how important interagency cooperation is in implementing port State measures. Whether it is evaluating the risk level of a vessel, making decisions about port access, or undertaking inspections or enforcement actions, agencies need to share information, respond quickly to requests, and actively support each other in order to keep illegally caught fish out of Ghanas’ ports.”

Stop Illegal Fishing (SIF) supported the meeting technically and financially through their work to implement port state measures to stop illegal fishing (PSM-SIF) across Africa. The Ports Task Force Ghana is supported by Stop Illegal Fishing, through the PSM-SIF initiative with funding from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the Global Programme Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Special Initiative.

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One in four fish in Africa is caught illegally, this threatens the sustainability of fish stocks, damages the ecosystem and deprives governments of income and people of livelihoods.

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Illegal fishing is a complex issue that requires multifaceted responses. Stop Illegal Fishing are working with a range of organisations to bring about change.

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