The Ghana Tuna Association has called on authorities to adjust downwards the new licence fee of $135 per Gross Registered Tonnage (GTR) for tuna vessels.
According to the Association, the current fee represents an increment of 385 per cent instead of the agreed 75 per cent increment on the previous fee of $35 per GTR.
Addressing a press conference on the issue, President of the Association, John Davidson, said the exorbitant licensing fee slapped on its members by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development is compounding the already dire situation of Ghanaian tuna fishing vessels.
He said already, the members of the Association are grappling with the steep cost of maintenance for vessels to meet the very strict health and hygiene export standards of its major trading partner.
“Subsidies and import duty exemptions previously enjoyed on fuel and fishing gear respectively have all been withdrawn,” he said.
He said the hardest hit is the Pole & Line tuna vessels that use anchovies for fishing.
He added that per the peculiar nature of their operation, they require live anchovies as bait to catch tuna.
However, he lamented that the restrictions on the fishing of anchovies with light for instance, is negatively affecting their trade.
As a result, Mr. Davidson said out of the 20 Pole & Line registered vessels, only five are currently in operation and at below breakeven point.
“If the situation persists, these are also likely to go out of business thereby brining closure to a viable sector of our fishery and economy,” he said.
Mr Davidson therefore called for the amendment of the law which he stated prohibits the use of light in harvesting anchovies to tuna Pole & Line vessels so that the industry can be sustained.
The president of the Association also called for the training of Ghanaians in trawler fishing skills.
Mr. Davidson said although the Maritime University has modules for training in navigation, the required fishing skills is lacking hence the industry’s complete reliance on foreign crew mainly as ship officers.
“It is high time the Ghana Maritime Authority took a serious look at this issue which has been on the drawing board for several years,” he said.