A report by Environmental Justice Foundation (EFJ) indicates that Ghana loses up to twenty-three point seven million dollars ($23.7M) in the fishing industry every year to undervaluation of fishing license fees and soft fines for trawlers operating illegally in local waters.
Apart from pegging license fees at the lowest rate in the sub-region, Ghana also accommodates large trawlers run by mainly state-controlled Chinese corporations that avoid the appropriate licensing regime through intermediaries that front for them.
Besides, fines for illegal fishing are often below even the minimum threshold stipulated by Ghanaian laws.
The report expected to be made public today, is the latest work by the NGO that investigates suspected intrusion and illegal activities in Ghanaian fishing waters Ghana’s licensing fees are substantially lower than other coastal states in the region, and comparisons suggest Ghana could generate an additional 2.4 to 6.7 million dollars every year by increasing its fees for foreign trawlers to similar levels as its neighbors.
In a statement, Executive Director of EJF, Steve Trent, said there is a grave risk that Ghana’s fisheries will soon collapse, impacting the livelihoods of more than 2.7 million Ghanaians.
Safeguarding the country’s fisheries requires urgent intervention at the government level to introduce reforms that will improve transparency.
The report said an estimated 90 percent of the Ghanaian trawl fleet is owned by Chinese corporations although foreign ownership or control are banned.
These corporations, it said, operate through local front companies using opaque corporate structures to import their vessels, register and obtain a license to fish to circumvent the law.