Officers from the Fisheries Enforcement Unit(FEU), led by Commodore Francis Nyarko, the National Coordinator of the Fisheries Enforcement Unit conducted a random unannounced beach combing on the 23rd December, 2022, at the Bojo beach at Weija.
Beach combing is widely known to be an activity that consists of an individual or group searching the beach and inter-tidal zone, looking for things of value, interest, and utility. However, in the fisheries sector beach combing is targeted at recovering illegal fishing gears and activities that can affect the fisheries industry, or community negatively. There are various benefits to beach combing such as; it helps reduce illegality in fishing, it helps to check illegal activities of fishermen and related issues, the combing forces fishermen to practice good fishing methods, also helps remove all illegal fishing gears from the beach, and also helps protect sea mammals, mangroves and checks sand winning. Another focus of beach combing is to help eradicate light fishing among small-scale fishing industry. Light fishing is the use of artificial light in fishing operations to attract and aggregate fish, and eventually capture them using various gears such as hooks, cast nets, gill nets, among other means. The practice of light fishing contributes to the depletion of fingerlings and high levels of fishing spoilage. Also according to the Fisheries Regulations, 2002 (11) (1a);
“A person shall not within the fishery waters of this country use any fishing method that aggregates Fish by light attraction including use of portable generator, switchboard, bulbs beyond 500 watts or bulbs whose cumulative light intensity attracts fish and long cable to facilitate light production or any other contrivances for the purpose of aggregating fish by light;”
Therefore, it is prudent for the FEU to conducted random, unannounced beach combing on the various beaches across the country, to help curtail the problem of light fishing, and other illegalities on the various beaches in the country.
PURPOSE OF THE VISIT
The purpose of the inspection is to conduct a random “comb” to see if fishermen at the selected beach continuously practice light fishing using various equipment, and also to check if the fishermen practice any illegalities on the beach. Also, the inspection is to seize all equipment suspected to be used for light fishing, and possibly arrest all culprits and bring them to order, according to the Fisheries Regulations, 2002 11(1).
The inspection was led by Commodore Francis Nyarko, the National Coordinator of the Fisheries Enforcement Unit. He was accompanied by officers from the FEU comprising of officers from the Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance Division (MCSD), and officers from the Navy and the Marine.
DETAILS OF THE ACTIVITY
The team first conveyed at the Fisheries Commision, Tema for discussion and brainstorming before departure. The team left at about 6:00am to Bojo Beach, Weija. At the beach, most of the fishermen fled the scene leaving behind their boats and fishing canoes. The team ransacked various fishing canoes and found eighteen (18) generators, thirteen (13) tripod stands for fishing, and a gallon. Also, the team combed through the beach for a while to look out for other irregularities, and illegalities committed by the fishermen and report on them.
The team gathered all evidence, and took photographic evidence as well as videos for reference, report and investigation. The team returned to Accra, conveying at the premises Fisheries Commission, Tema at about 1:00pm. The seized equipment was inspected by the head of MCSD, Mr. Richard Yeboah. He instructed that the equipment be taken to Fisheries Commission office at the Tema Fishing Harbour for safety pending further investigation.
Although, no arrest was made as the culprits fled the scene, further investigations have begun, and culprits will be arrested for justice to take its course.
It was observed that the fishermen are very much aware that light fishing among the small scale fishing industry, and other illegal fishing activities are forbidden, and against the law. They are of the knowing that, they could be charge and prosecuted for the offences, if investigation proves them guilty. This is clearly shown in the evidence of them fleeing the scene when the team arrived.
At the arrival of the team, Mr. Richard Yeboah commended the team for a good work done. He further stated that, there will be frequent random unexpected beach combing in the coming year, and will need all hands on deck. All these is to help to totally eradicate light fishing among small-scale fishing industries. The team dispersed at about 1:45pm.