The Ghana Aquaculture Stakeholders (GAS) has petitioned the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) to, as a matter of urgency, take immediate action to stop the illegal importation of fish and fingerlings.
It stated that the unregulated importation of tilapia and fingerlings from South East Asia came along with bacteria and viruses that were contaminating the Volta Lake.
“Therefore, GAS is seeking a comprehensive clean-up of the sector to stop illegal activities that are spreading diseases and rapidly depleting the country’s fish reserves.
“This is a matter of national importance that requires urgent attention,” the association said.
Handing over the petition to the Deputy Minister of MoFAD, Mr Francis Kingsley Ato Cudjoe, in Accra yesterday, the Founder of the GAS, Ms Patricia Safo, said: “Today, there is a high mortality of fish stock in the Volta Lake because of the viruses which have been imported into the country.
“Rogue players who act illegally to pursue short-term profit must be identified and driven out of the industry,” she stated.
Ms Safo stated that a survey carried out by the GAS this year revealed that fish farms around the Volta Lake were currently being faced with unprecedented challenges including the illegal importation of fish and fingerlings to Ghana.
She blamed the challenge on the lack of effective control which had allowed some “selfish, short-sighted greed of a few people to go unchallenged,” and therefore, called for urgent intervention by the relevant government regulatory agencies to address those challenges in order to save the industry from imminent collapse.
“We are requesting swift action to resolve this problem to establish a level playing field, based on clear standards and everyone involved in the sector must follow the correct procedures,” she said.
The leader of GAS said the commitment of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development to place a ban on the importation of all tilapia into Ghana would go a long way to promote the aquaculture industry.
She also appealed to the MoFAD to adequately support activities related to aquaculture and also ensure that its enforcement unit was provided with the human resources and logistics to carry out its mandate.
“Vaccines should be made available at subsidised prices to enable farms to recover and vaccination teams should be established to assist farmers in the vaccination process,” Ms Safo added.
She also requested MoFAD to work closely with the Attorney-General to prosecute all persons from the private sector and public services, who were involved in illegal activities that threatened the aquaculture industry in Ghana.