Nelly Bassily | February 1, 2010
Declining fish stocks are a concern in many parts of Africa where people make their living as fishers. More than half of Ghana’s 20 million people reside within 100 kilometres of the coast, and fish represent the primary source of both dietary protein and income.
This week’s article focuses on how illegal fishing contributes to the problem. More information on illegal fishing activities, and efforts to stop them, can be found on this website: http://www.illegal-fishing.info/sub_approach.php?subApproach_id=61#news_anchor.
Past FRW news articles have looked at steps that fishing communities can take to ensure they do not deplete local fish stocks. For example, seasonal fishing bans, designed to halt fishing during the time that fish reproduce, aim to ensure healthy fish populations. In November 2008, FRW reported on a proposed seasonal fishing ban for Lake Victoria. (http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/11/03/east-africa-fishers-and-scientists-back-seasonal-fishing-ban-for-lake-victoria-new-vision/) Last August, we reported that some of Madagascar’s fishers are learning to use larger-meshed nets to avoid catching very small fish, another technique that helps fish stocks to regenerate. (http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/08/03/1-madagascar-fishers-reel-in-prizes-while-learning-to-keep-waters-stocked-syfia-info/)
If you broadcast to a fishing community, you may wish to host a panel discussion on the topic of maintaining fish stocks. Invite one or more local fishers and/or representatives from fisher organizations, as well as representatives from relevant government agencies or NGOs. Questions for discussion might include:
-How have local fish stocks changed (increased or decreased) in recent years?
-What has caused this change? (For example, has overfishing caused fish stocks to drop, or have management techniques caused the stock to improve)?
-What laws are in place to regulate fishing practices used by local fisherman and by offshore vessels (if applicable)?
-Do locals play a role in monitoring the practices of offshore vessels, as fishers in Ghana are now being encouraged to do?
-What fishery management policies and methods, such as seasonal fishing bans or use of larger-meshed nets, do fishers use to promote healthy fish stocks?
-If local fishers observe a seasonal fishing ban, what income-generating activities (such as selling dried fish or producing other products) do fishers pursue in order to sustain themselves during non-fishing seasons?