Last week, news broke out that tonnes of tilapia met their sudden untimely death in an aquaculture facility, Fujian Farms, near Asutsuare, a small town in the Shai-Osudoku District of the Greater Accra Region.
Pictures were awash on social media with dead fish in the cages, on the ground where traders made themselves available to put them on the market, and some in dug trenches to be buried.
Sources claimed that this sad incident occurred in the first week of October, and it took two weeks to make headline news.
Initially there were sketchy reports as to the cause of the death of at most 13,000 fish (6-8 tonnes). Some blamed a nearby factory which spills its waste into the river close to the farm. Others thought it was the species of fish imported into the country by the Chinese which could not adapt to our conditions here.
It was, however, agreed that it was only fish in the Chinese-owned Fujian Farms that died mysteriously, and all other fish farms did not have that incident.
A letter, dated June 18, 2018, from the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development through all media houses, notified the public of a ban on tilapia and ornamental fish imports, indicating that a tilapia lake virus was responsible for significant mortalities in farmed tilapia. The virus had been dictated in Asia, South America and parts of Africa. The ban was to take effect on July 1, 2018.
Why the ban officially took effect two weeks after public notification may remain a mystery, for within that grace period the virus could have been imported into the country and cleared at the ports.
It is well known that the Chinese, everywhere, use all methods to rear tilapia, some of which are unacceptable, making the fish dangerous for human consumption. Feeding them on animal faeces and banned chemicals just to make the fish very huge in size could lead to salmonella infections and other serious health hazards.
The Chinese are here for business, and what an opportunity to be able to produce tilapia, and at such low cost of production using unapproved feeding methods and banned chemicals. So fish from a Chinese farm fully infested with diseases and chemicals will attract the eye, because of its sheer size of at least a kilogramme body weight. This will be sold at exorbitant prices, while the smaller, healthier tilapia would be left to rot, even at lower and most affordable prices.
We were told that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is running tests to get to the bottom of the mystery behind the possible theriocide of the at most thirteen thousand tilapia. The results have been too long in coming, and in fairness to the nation, all we need to know is the truth and nothing else, because we need to move this country forward.
Simply put: Why is it that only fish from the Chinese fish farm died mysteriously? What kind of species is reared in those cages? If they were foreign tilapia species, did they get into this country after passing through the right channels and given the okay by the fisheries authority? If clearance were given, was something overlooked (deliberately or unintentionally) so as to let unwanted “fish immigrants” cross the borders into this country? Or did the Chinese find a way of smuggling in unacceptable species through their fishing vessels, as they do smuggle our gold out?
The questions are a lot, and we need answers for all of them. Back to the importation of tilapia into the country, we were told of the government’s stand on this position. No tilapia and ornamental fish species were to come into the country, as directed by government. Even though it gave a two weeks grace period, which needs to be explained, we still have a situation here. From the first day of July to the first week of October, when the incident occurred, covers a three month period, of which a normal breed of tilapia on a fish farm will grow to market size of at least 600 grammes. This is not the same for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) fish and/or fish forced to take in cocktails of flesh enhancing drugs and fed on animal faeces. These can gain over a kilogramme within that period.
In short, our laws have been compromised, and in China, laws are meant to be obeyed, not broken. Anyone who violates any provision of the law in China is dealt with severely. Some even get death sentences, with such executions becoming very common in the world’s most populous country.
In Ghana, it seems the Chinese can do anything at all, and when we talk we get warned by their Ambassador here, not to speak evil of her people. Things that could attract capital punishment in China, when committed here, we are being told that we are just too petty to be complaining by the representative of the Chinese President and the Chinese people, here in our country. Maybe we are now a Chinese colony, and our new colonial masters, like those of ages gone by, can do whatever they like to us in our own land.
I will be forced to cry foul if the results come out to say that someone might have poisoned the fish. If they were under pond culture, that could be possible, but not cage culture, where whatever poison was used could slip easily in the water and affect other farms. I stand to be corrected on this prejudice stand.
It will be another form of slavery to hunt down innocent Ghanaians and punish them for doing no wrong, just to protect our self-acclaimed colonial masters.
Or, maybe, in all this, the Chinese did not read about the ban and are simply oblivious of our laws. Then someone must inform them that ignorance of the law is no excuse.
Hon. Daniel Dugan