Trawlers continue illegal operations and dodge fines in Ghana
Trawlers continue to operate illegally, as well as dodge fines in Ghana, according to the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF). Namely, last year, the vessel Lu Rong Yuan Yu 956 was caught in Ghanaian waters with illegal nets and undersized ‘small pelagic’ fish on board. Despite the owners of the vessel were fined US$1 million fine, they refused to pay.
Ghana’s ‘small pelagic’ fish stocks are facing many dangers, with researchers predicting their total loss in under a decade, unless urgent action is taken.
“This is due in large part to illegal fishing – and especially the destructive trans-shipment practice known as Saiko. The Lu Rong Yuan Yu 956 is the latest in a string of cases where the offenders are either given a much lower fine or refuse to pay entirely and are later re-licensed to fish” EJF states.
In another case, in 2017 the owners of a Ghanaian-flagged industrial trawler, Meng Xin 16, refused to pay a fine imposed by an out-of-court settlement committee in a case of illegal trans-shipment. The vessel has since paid an undisclosed sum and been re-licensed to continue fishing. What is more, another vessel, the Meng Xin 29, which was fined for illegal fishing in 2019, has paid a lower sum and since been re-licensed to fish.
Currently, EJF notes that about 90% of Ghana’s industrial fishing fleet is linked to Chinese ownership. With Ghana prohibiting foreigners from engaging in joint ventures in the industrial trawl sector, Chinese organizations operate through Ghanaian ‘front’ companies.