Delegation of the European Union to Ghana

Enforcement is needed to end 'saiko' fishing troubles

23/10/2019 - 11:48
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Last week, the EU Ambassador to Ghana, Diana Acconcia, spent two days in Cape Coast and Elmina, meeting community leaders, fishers and fish processors, discussing the future of Ghana’s fisheries and coastal communities

Enforcement is needed to end 'saiko' fishing troubles

Project managers and local partners of the EU-funded projects, Far Ban Bo and Far Dwuma Nkodo are supporting local artisanal fishing communities to address illegal fishing, secure the tenure rights of small-scale fishers, and promote responsible fishing practices in order to ensure sustainability of the fisheries resources upon which they derive their livelihoods .


The challenge is urgent: Saiko fishing is threatening coastal livelihoods in Ghana by driving key fish populations to the brink of collapse.

Fisheries Mission
Bowl of fish for sale

‘Saiko’ is a severely destructive form of illegal fishing, where industrial trawlers target the mainstay of Ghana’s artisanal fishing sector – small pelagic species – affecting the livelihoods of coastal communities. They also catch a large proportion of juveniles – preventing the populations from replenishing. 


In 2017 alone this trade took around 100,000 tonnes of fish – worth over US$ 50 million when sold at the landing site – a report by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) and Hen Mpoano revealed this year.


A recent UN FAO assessment found that stocks of sardinella shared between Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo and Benin are near collapse, and recommended the complete closure of the sardinella fishery to allow populations to recover.


The Far Ban Bo (Protecting fisheries livelihoods) project, implemented jointly by the Environmental Justice Foundation and Hen Mpoano, and the Far Dwuma Nkodo (Securing fisheries livelihoods) project, implemented by Care Denmark, Oxfam International and Friends of the Nation, try to address these challenges.

Durba of fishing communities
Durba of fishing communities

Cooperation and engaging with all relevant stakeholders stood high on the agenda: Building on the strong work of the local partners, the Ambassador met community leaders, fishers and fish processors to discuss the future of Ghana’s fisheries and coastal communities.

Speaking at the Durbar, the Omanhen of Oguaa Traditional Council, Osaabarima Kwesi Atta II stressed: “Government must act as a matter of urgency to end the saiko menace. Saiko is fast depleting Ghana's artisanal fisheries.

The Fisheries Enforcement Unit must sustain its enforcement of the laws to end saiko. At the same time, artisanal fishers must desist from fishing with illegal methods.”

Saiko landing site of Elmina
Saiko landing site of Elmina

The Ambassador also met officers of the Fisheries Commission to understand the measures being taken by government to eliminate saiko.


Unfortunately, the saiko landing site of Elmina in Ghana’s Central Region is a worrying testimony of the extent of the illegal fishing practises: covered baskets filled with frozen slabs of saiko fish contrast sharply to the fresh fish sold at the market.


Visitors can witness the impact this destructive fishing practice is having on communities along the coast.

calls for urgent action and enforcement
calls for urgent action and enforcement

Ambassador Acconcia gave a clear and unwavering engagement from the EU: “Urgent action is required to save Ghana’s coastal fisheries. Their collapse would have unimaginable implications for fishing communities, with potential for widespread poverty, civil unrest and threats to national security.


The EU is ready to support the Ghanaian government and fishing communities in the fight to end the highly damaging practice of saiko, and other forms of illegal fishing."


The legal framework is already in place. Enforcement and decisive action are required. The EU stands ready to help Ghana in this effort.

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