Disappearing Historic Fishing in Ghana
Illegal fishing by foreign trawlers is decimating Ghana’s fish populations and costing the country’s economy tens of millions of dollars a year. The practice is precipitating the collapse of Ghana’s staple fish stock – small pelagic fish such as sardinella, a crucial protein in the local diet. Scientists have warned that stocks could be completely destroyed as early as 2020. In 2017, 76 industrial trawlers caught the same amount of fish as 12,000 artisanal canoes. In addition to licensed catches, the trawlers use illegal nets to catch fish closer to the coast that are normally reserved for artisanal fishers. More than 90% of Ghana’s industrial trawl fleet is linked to Chinese owners, who depend on Ghanaian “front” companies to bypass national laws forbidding their operation. As local fishermen attempt to catch what’s left behind, they too turn to illegal methods, with the use of lights, dynamite and poisonous chemicals increasing exponentially and causing further environmental destruction.