The Asafoatse of the Tema Traditional Council, Nii Kakra Dawu, has expressed concerns over the sale of premix fuel to persons not dealing in fishing while fishermen bear the brunt of fuel scarcity.
According to Nii Kakra Dawu, who owns a vessel, authorities in charge of the premix distribution sideline fishermen and give the fuel to people he described as ‘businessmen’, who later sell the premix at exorbitant prices to the fishermen.
He lamented that due to the hike in fuel prices, the fishermen cannot afford an alternative thus compelling them to buy the expensive premix from these middlemen.
“The premix is not forthcoming and the little that comes becomes a problem. The known canoe fishermen who need the premix for fishing don’t get the fuel but rather persons who don’t have canoes are given the fuel to do business. These persons resell the premix to the fishermen at higher prices when it should have gone to them straight away”, he complained on Angel FM’s Anopa Bofo Morning Show.
He noted that the problem, which has become a norm, has come up at the Traditional Council’s general meetings several times for discussion but no solution has succeeded.
He explained that “When you see a 100 gallons queuing for premix, 50% of those who are canoe owners and are fishermen in need of the fuel for fishing wouldn’t get it. Of the remaining 50%, only 25% who are canoe owners and fishermen would receive the premix for work. The remaining 25% are neither fishermen nor canoe owners but would get the premix to resell. This has been normalized and creates a shortage forcing fishermen to buy from those businessmen [or risk staying at home]”
In his view if fuel prices were low, when there is a scarcity, fishermen could afford to buy and still be productive but the constant rising cost of fuel has worsened their already bad situation.
Beyond the premix challenges, he accused deep sea fishing vessels of diverting into their trade therefore reducing their catch these days.
“Our problems are many starting from the [premix] fuel challenges to coming back empty after a fishing expedition due to the activities of deep-sea fishers who are now indulging in shallow sea fishing.”
Nii Kakra Deawu also called for a change of date in the closed fishing season meant for fishermen.
According to him, the months of July, August and September are the best seasons for fishing contrary to what the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) has proposed.
The Ministry made July to August the closed season with the reason that it is the period for the fish to reproduce, spawn and grow but the fishermen have disputed the time.
In his view, the closed season which prohibits fishing should be changed to March, April and perhaps extended to May, the time they believe the fishes reproduce.
He explained that the practice, since 40 years ago when he was young, has always been that in March and April canoe owners drag their canoes to shore for maintenance. They also repair their worn and torn nets and prepare for the fishing season which begins in July. But even in the Western Region fishermen start in June.
The fishermen noted that the ministry adopted the July to August dates based on what is happening in Denmark and Greece but in Ghana things are different so they should conduct local research that suits Ghana.