Ghana’s ‘small pelagic’ fish stocks are facing many dangers, with researchers predicting their total loss in under a decade, unless urgent action is taken.

This is due in large part to illegal fishing – and especially the destructive trans-shipment practice known as saiko. The Lu Rong Yuan Yu 956 is the latest in a string of cases where the offenders are either given a much lower fine or refuse to pay entirely, and are later re-licensed to fish

EJF states.

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In another case, in 2017 the owners of a Ghanaian-flagged industrial trawler, Meng Xin 16, refused to pay a fine imposed by an out-of-court settlement committee in a case of illegal trans-shipment. The vessel has since paid an undisclosed sum and been re-licensed to continue fishing. What is more, another vessel, the Meng Xin 29, which was fined for illegal fishing in 2019, has paid a lower sum and since been re-licensed to fish.

Currently, EJF notes that about 90% of Ghana’s industrial fishing fleet is linked to Chinese ownership. With Ghana prohibiting foreigners from engaging in joint ventures in the industrial trawl sector, Chinese organisations operate through Ghanaian ‘front’ companies.

Both the Meng Xin 16 and Meng Xin 29 are linked to a Chinese company a recent investigation by China Dialogue revealed. In the current case, the Lu Rong Yuan Yu 956 is also operated by a Chinese company, Rongcheng Ocean Fishery Co Ltd

EJF reveals.

According to the Fisheries Act, failure to pay the fine within 30 days results in the matter reverting to the court. It is now essential that the court uses all legal options available to require payment of the fine and accompanying sanctions to ensure deterrence.