Posted on August 13, 2018 by Ashleigh Cowie
Ghana has stepped up its efforts to crackdown on Saiko- an illegal fishing practice driving the collapse of the nation's inshore fishery.
As part of the illegal practice industrial trawlers sell fish to local canoes at sea. Saiko was initially a form of trading unwanted industrial bycatch in exchange at sea for fruit and livestock.
Not only illegal, it puts industrial fishing vessels in direct competition with small-scale fishers for catches of species such as sardinella that are a staple food for local communities. Having gained the fish from canoe fishers, saiko operators sell these back to the same fishing communities for profit.
Images taken by the Fisheries Enforcement Unit reveal the sheer volume of fish that may be transported in a saiko canoe. An average saiko trip involves 26 tons of fish, the equivalent of around 400 traditional artisanal canoe trips.
The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) and local NGO Hen Mpoano say suitable sanctions must be imposed not only on the saiko canoe owners, but also the operators and owners of the industrial trawl vessel that caught the fish.
Saiko is illegal under Ghanaian law, attracting a fine of between $100,000 and $2 million. The minimum fine increases to $1 million where catches involve juvenile fish or the use of prohibited fishing wear.