GSA denies conducting sample test; but Minister insists test has been done (Tuesday, August 6, 2013) Pg 29

The Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) has denied conducting a fish sample test along the country’s coast.
“We don’t have any knowledge of such a test. I have contacted our field officers and they are not aware of any such test,” the Public Relations Officer of the authority, Mr Kofi Amponsah-Bediako, told the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday.

The denial runs contrary to a statement attributed to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mr Nayon Bilijo, that samples of fish tested along the coast from Half Assini to Aflao had revealed that only fish landed at James Town  in Accra was safe for consumption.
Mr Bilijo is reported to have also stated that the test showed that fish caught from other communities along the coast contained harmful chemicals.

“We cannot allow the mass poisoning of Ghanaians to continue, we have to clean up the system and make fish clean for everybody,” the minister was quoted as saying during an inspection tour of cold store facilities at Prampram on Wednesday, July 31, 2013.

 But, Mr Amponsah-Bediako said in a telephone interview that: “You have to contact the minister and find out where the samples were taken and when the test was conducted. For now, I’m also looking for information on it.”

When contacted, the minister insisted that the ministry did send its professionals to the various landing beaches to take the samples, which were then sent to the laboratories of the GSA for analysis.
“They did the test and sent us the results. Understandably, they can say they don’t know about the results. They are perfectly right,” he said.

He said the test was carried out at landing beaches in fishing areas, including Axim, Shama, Elmina, Keta and James Town.

To reverse the trend of poisonous fishes in the country’s waters, he said the ministry had set up a committee to see to the establishment of a Fisheries Enforcement Unit, in compliance with the Fisheries Act.

“We are also importing meters that are just like thermometers and could detect chemicals in fish,” he added.
Mr Bilijo said the main job of the unit, which would be established by next month, would be to detect chemicals in fishes and also educate the fisher —folks about the dangers of using chemicals.

The unit, he said, would ensure that anybody who used dynamites and chemicals or was involved in the use of light for fishing was dealt with, to preserve the country’s fish stock.

He said ever since the ban on light fishing and pair trawling was enforced, the activities of pair trawlers had reduced drastically while light fishing had also minimised.

Nii Abeo Kyerekuanda IV, Executive Secretary of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council, commenting on the issue, said there were several ways fish could be contaminated and not necessarily through the use of chemicals.

“The way it is handled on the high seas could also result in contamination. Fish is perishable and if you don’t handle it with care, it can get bad not necessarily through the use of chemicals,” he added.

He, however, admitted that carbide was being used by some recalcitrant fishermen because the law enforcement agencies were lax in doing their job.


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