Mr Seth Abelia, the assemblyman for Teshie-Avedzi electoral area in Aflao has said he is not a member of the crew of fishermen who broke the closed fishing season directive currently being observed at all coastal areas of the country.
Mr Abelia was on Wednesday, July 12 arrested alongside, one Agbesi Atisu and Atitso Atitsogbui for engaging in prohibited fishing activities during the closed season at the Abeliakorpe landing beach in Aflao.
He told reporters after the incident that, contrary to suggestions that he was part of the crew, he went to the beach to ascertain the facts, after hearing of prohibited fishing activities in his area.
“I am not part of the offending fishermen. As assemblyman of the area, I was at the beach after hearing there was fishing going on in my area which I know is prohibited during the closed season – the marine officers asked me to assist them in selling the confiscated fish-catch, which I did and handed the money over to them – I was later told that I have to assist in investigations, only for them to arrest and handcuff me. The owners of the canoe cannot be found and no charges have been preferred against me yet,” Abelia said.
The Eastern Naval Command and the Fisheries Enforcement Unit (FEU), comprising of officers from the Monitoring Control Surveillance Division (MCSD), arrested the suspects during an exercise dubbed “beach-combing” along the coast of the Volta region.
The exercise was aimed at enforcing compliance with the month long closed season directive after intelligence revealed that some artisanal fishers were still engaging in fishing activities against the directive.
It was also to ensure that Artisanal, Semi-Industrial and Industrial vessels, within the catchment area of the Volta region, observed the closed season which took effect from July 1.
The three suspects are still in police custody as investigation into the development continues.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) in collaboration with the Fisheries Commission, directed artisanal and inshore fleets to observe the one-month closed season while industrial fleets observed two months.
The closed season directive aims to avoid over-exploitation of the fishery resource and to allow the fish stock to replenish to avert the possible collapse of the fishing industry due to depleted stock.
Visits by this reporter to some landing beaches during the first week of the directive showed that, fishers were complying with the directive as they hanged up their gears awaiting the lifting of the ban in August.
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