Fishermen in Anomabo have received smart phones for the piloting of an Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU)-ICT mobile App for monitoring, documenting and reporting fishing activities.
The initiative forms part of the “Far Ban Bo” project, being funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by a consortium of non-governmental organisations namely Friends of the National (FoN), CARE and Oxfam as a step to protect fishing livelihoods of fishers in Ghana.
The information gathered would be sent to the Fisheries Commission, Fisheries Enforcement Unit as well as partners of the “Far Ban Bo” Project database through the IUU monitoring mobile app.
Mr Philip Prah, Project Officer of FoN, a non-governmental organisation concerned with natural resource management and an implementing partner of the “Far Ban Bo” project, explained that the idea was to get enough evidence to prosecute illegal activities of fishermen, especially saiko fishers.
“With the provision of the smart phones, local fishermen can take videos and pictures of illegal fishing activities such as illegal trans-shipment, known as “saiko”, dumping of fish, light fishing and other prohibited fishing methods in the Section 88 of the Fisheries Act 625, during their fishing expedition and send them through the app for the prosecution of offenders,” he said.
He said as part of the project, IUU Community Monitoring Groups (CMG) had been established with the fishermen given relevant training on how to gather real evidence on illegal activities at sea in the beneficiary communities.
Fishermen across the country have largely accused “Saiko” fishing mostly done by foreign vessels managed by the Chinese and other foreign nationals for the illegal trans-shipment of fish thereby depleting fish stock.
Saiko fishing involves foreigners who are licensed to catch particular commercial fishes like tuna within certain radius off-shore but end up fishing in unauthorised areas near-shore catching other fish species.
Mr. Prah believed that the move would enable the local fishermen to play their watchdog role on the sea effectively. Nana Mbroba Dabo I, Paramount Queen Mother of Anomabo Traditional Area, reminded the fishermen of their responsibility to save the sea for future generations.She asked them to work without biase, discrimination or favouritism and collectively support efforts by the Government to prevent IUU practices and restore the depleted fish stock.
The Queen Mother admonished the volunteers to be security conscious while they went about their duties saying: “Your life should be your number one priority”.
The smart phones comes with a tracking device installed on them and a floatable bag for IUU monitoring activities at near-shore or offshore to avoid drowning of the phones.