ISSF holds educational workshop

…to protect Tuna Resources in Ghana

By: Daniel Nonor

Fishers, skippers and boat owners have attended a workshop in Accra to be part of a global effort to reduce the environmental impact of purse seine (net) fishing for tuna.  The program was hosted by the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) and facilitated by MWBrands, a co-founder of ISSF.

MWBrands Holding, based in Paris, owns Pioneer Food Cannery Ltd. (the largest tuna processor in Ghana) and TTV Ltd. (one of the largest Tuna Fishing Company in Ghana).

The workshop incorporated educational elements, which are updated as scientists uncover new information during at-sea research, and an open dialogue to identify new ideas from fishers directly.

“In reality, scientists can identify best practices but we need the fishers to tell us if it’s practical or if there’s a new idea we should pursue,” ISSF Scientific Advisory Committee Chair, Dr. Victor Restrepo said “This direct line of communication with a diverse group of vessel captains and skippers during the research process is rare and invaluable.”

Purse seine vessels often fish on floating objects. These materials, which are many times man-made devices, attract tuna making fishing easier and more efficient.

The trouble is that this practice leads to bycatch, the capture of marine life – mainly small tuna – that the fisher did not set out to catch. ISSF has embarked on an at-sea research plan designed to study the most unsustainable elements and develop more responsible practices.ISSF President Susan Jackson added, “I think what we’ll find is that this approach delivers better, more comprehensive research with a faster response on the water. We won’t have to wait years for nations to implement new rules – vessels will be doing it before it’s required of them.”

The workshop was modelled after a program that was designed and put into practice by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) in the eastern Pacific Ocean. With the help of leading scientists and fishing experts, ISSF has adapted this model to be used in ocean regions around the world and has already helped facilitate programs in Latin America and Europe.

Opening the workshop, the Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture (Fisheries), Nii Amasah Namoale commended the ISSF for addressing the need to reduce by catch, sharing best practices between oceans and promote healthy ecosystems and above all, work towards ensuring long term sustainable resources for all.

He said the government of Ghana recognises the tuna industry as a major player in the socio economic development of the nation and would, therefore, support all that it takes to reach its potential, saying it has the potential to ensure the livelihood of the people, offer employment, contribute to GDP, foreign exchange earnings, reduce poverty and ensure good health of the people.

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