Four fishermen have been convicted at the TDC District Court in Tema for flouting the close-season fishing imposed by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development.
The four; Kennedy Ganavudo, 22, Francis Bobole, 20, Jonas Ametepe Kushi, 35 and Kobla Aboste, 46, were fined a total of GH¢19,200 (400 penalty units each) or in default would each be subjected to a one-month jail term.
The Magistrate, Benedicta Antwi slapped sentence on the four after hearing the brief facts of the case.
The court further ordered the police to confiscate the fish catch found in the possession of the fishermen as well as their fishing equipment. Three out of the four convicted persons pleaded guilty. Francis Bobole however pleaded guilty with explanation.
Bobole told the court that they had travelled to Togo on a fishing expedition but due to the bad weather conditions, they did not realise they had strayed into Ghana waters where the close season was in force at the time of their arrest.
The court after hearing the explanation returned a plea of guilty as the explanation did not raise any reasonable defence.
The facts as narrated in court by Inspector Hilda A. Sarkodie was that on July 25, 2023, at about 4 pm, joint personnel of the Fisheries Enforcement Unit (FEU), comprising officers from the Monitoring Control Surveillance Division (MCSD) and officers from the Marine Police on board a Ghana Navy vessel embarked on patrol on the seas to track down fishermen failing to observe the close season which started on July 1, 2023.
She said in the process, the four fishermen were arrested in two separate canoes fishing, contrary to section 84 of the Fisheries Act 625, while an unspecified quantity of fish was also found in their possession on the canoes.
The Prosecution said the four fishermen were handed over to the police and after investigations were charged with the offence and arraigned
During the pre-sentencing mitigation, the four fishermen asked for leniency. The Court after hearing from the prosecution that the convicts were first time offenders imposed a fine of 400 penalty units on each of the four fishers. (The monetary value of a penalty unit currently stands at GH¢12.00)
The court also ordered the police to confiscate the fish catch found in possession of the fishermen as well as their fishing equipment
At the time of filing this report, the relatives of the four fishers had started an arrangement to pay the fines imposed by the court.
The close season was implemented by the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) in collaboration with the Fisheries Commission and other stakeholders in accordance with section 84 of the Fisheries Act 625.
The Act seeks to, among other objectives; allow replenishment of the country’s over-exploited and depleted fish stocks as the schedule was the favourable period for fish to reproduce.
This year, canoe and inshore fishers were expected to observe the closed season from July 1 to 31, 2023, while industrial trawlers were to observe the closed Season from July 1 to August 31, 2023.