Ghanaian trawler owner fined US$1 million for IUU fishing

The Ghana Navy patrol ships GNS Anzone (front) and GNS Achimota (Photo: US Air Force/Master Sergeant Steve Faulisi)

Ghanaian authorities have imposed a US$1 million fine on a local fishing company after the crew of one of its vessels were discovered to have engaged in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

An out-of-court settlement committee consisting of the country’s Fisheries Commission, the Ghana Marine Police, the Ghana Navy, and the Attorney General’s office have ordered Gyinam Fisheries of Tema to pay the US$1 million penalty following the arrest of one of the company’s vessels earlier this year.

The trawler Lu Rong Yuan Yu 956 and its crew were intercepted and detained by the Ghana Navy on June 16 on suspicion of engaging in IUU fishing. The vessel was later boarded by an inter-agency fisheries enforcement team which found over 800 slabs of frozen mixed small pelagic fish species believed to be below the minimum landing size as well as undersized mesh banned from use in Ghanaian waters.

Lu Rong Yuan Yu 956‘s five crewmembers all pleaded not guilty to charges of IUU fishing and were later released on bail by the Takoradi Circuit Court.

Gyinam Fisheries then sought for an out of court settlement partly to ensure the immediate release of the trawler, which has been in the navy’s custody since its arrest.

In addition to having to pay the US$1 million penalty, reportedly one of the largest single amounts ever imposed in Ghana for IUU fishing violations, Gyinam Fisheries is required to pay an additional fine of GHS 124,000 (US$22,000) for Lu Rong Yuan Yu 956‘s illegal catch at the time of its seizure in accordance with the Fisheries Act of 2014.

The company has until November 8, 2019, to settle the fines or court proceedings would commence.

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