Aquaculture for all

Concern over dodgy tilapia imports


The Ghanaian authorities have expressed their concern after 1300 cartons of frozen tilapia, which bore no dates of manufacture or country of origin, were seized by the Fisheries Enforcement Team at Tema, writes Efua Konyim Okai.

The fish were imported by Mr. Zang Ming, a Chinese national. The seizure would seem to give credence to reports of substantial importats of tilapia into Ghana, mostly from its eastern neighbor Togo. Demand for tilapia is increasing among Ghanaian consumers, and Ghana’s infant aquaculture industry is barely able to produce enough. Current annual aquaculture production is 50,000 tonnes. Ghana imports a substantial amount of the country’s fish requirements.

An expatriate fisheries consultant told the author that local fisheries authorities must move quickly to deal with a related emerging trend – the importation of fish fingerlings, also from China. He says that Ghana’s aquaculture industry has huge potential, given the level of interest shown by both local and foreign investors. But, he says, a lot of damage could be done if the influx of ‘fingerlings of dubious quality’ is not checked.

“I am very surprised that after establishing such a foundation, the industry is being exposed to this risk,” he commented.

Meanwhile, Fisheries Minister Elizabeth Afoley Quaye has promised to protect Ghanaian fishermen from exploitation by Chinese nationals. She said that some Ghanaians have been entering into ‘contracts’ with Chinese trawler owners, whereby they act as fronts, providing legal cover for Chinese operations in Ghana. Apart from the fact that these ‘contracts’ are illegal, the Ghanaians are poorly rewarded for their efforts. She said she would also take up the issue of the many Ghanaians working on foreign fishing vessels, who are poorly paid.

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