Authorities in Ghana have taken the bizarre decision to re-license a trawler with a long track record of illegal operation in the country’s waters.
According to EJF, Lu Rong Yuan Yu 956 was apprehended with illegal fishing gear and catches of small pelagic on board last year and again this year, in addition to which the vessel’s owners, Chinese company Rongcheng Ocean Fishery Co Ltd, have refused to pay the fines issued for the initial offence in June 2019.
Now Lu Rong Yuan Yu 956 has been again licensed to fish in Ghanaian waters while a further hearing is pending.
EJF states that Ghana’s 2002 Fisheries Act makes clear that the Fisheries Commission shall not recommend the renewal of a fishing licence unless it is satisfied that “there has not been a failure to satisfy a judgment or any other determination for a contravention of this Act” (Section 76(1)(c)).
New vessels have continued to arrive from China, despite a February 2012 moratorium on new industrial trawlers entering Ghanaian waters. At least half of vessels licensed in 2018 were built in 2013 or later, after the moratorium on new or replacement vessels came into effect.
According to EJF, there has been an influx to West Africa of vessels from China in recent months, including into Ghana, Senegal and Liberia. In Ghana, around 90% of Ghana’s industrial fishing fleet is linked to Chinese ownership, in Sierra Leone, this figure stands at 75% of industrial vessels.