The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development has called off the 2020 closed fishing season for fisher folks in the country.

This had come about as a result of inconclusive discussions between the ministry and fisherfolks on the matter due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The sector Minister, Mrs Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, made this known when she received 1,300 Yamaha branded outboard motors from the Agriculture Development Bank (ADB) on behalf of the government in Tema last Friday.

The outboard motors are to be distributed among fisherfolks in the country.

The period for the closed season was tentatively agreed to begin from July to September.

‘Unfortunately, when we started with the engagement process, we only met with the executives of the fishers association and then COVID-19 broke out and so with the protocols that were instituted, we could not continue and had to call off the closed season,” she said.

Mrs Afoley Quaye explained that normally the ministry engaged with the fisher folks to agree not to go fishing within a certain time frame.

Mrs Afoley Quaye said the ministry was still determined to negotiate with those in the industrial sector since they were a smaller group, “but unfortunately, for two months they were also not fishing because some crew members of theirs were suspected to have the virus.”

Consequently, she said, the Ministry had agreed with the actors in the industry to suspend the close season for the industrial sector until 2021.

The government, through the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, is collaborating with the Coastal Development Authority (CODA) to procure 5,000 outboard motors for distribution to fisher folks in the country at an affordable and discounted price of 50 per cent of the actual cost.

The 1,300 outboard motors currently available are the first batch of the total number to be procured.

She urged the fisher folks to value the government’s goodwill by way of providing the sector with input subsidies and outboard motors and pre-mixed fuel, to engage in good fishing practices.

“You cannot use the subsidies that you are getting from the government for the wrong purposes, and so I urge all fisherfolks to use the government subsidies for the right motives.

“Fisher folks are testifying that they are getting pre-mixed fuel readily and because it is heavily subsidized we expect fisher-folks to appreciate the support and do the right thing at sea,” she added.

She said the ministry intended to continue to enforce the law and warned that the government would not sit down and watch the fisher folk do the wrong things.

The Managing Director of the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), Dr John Kofi Mensah, said the bank would continue to support agribusinesses in the country.

Dr Mensah urged fisher folks to visit any of the bank’s branches and transact business with it including acquiring loans to expand their businesses.

By:Isaac Clottey

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