Fishermen at Kpong in the Manya-Krobo Municipality of the Eastern Region are said to have intensified their use of dynamite and other poisonous substances in their fishing activities, with dangerous health and environmental consequences.
According to some fishmongers and consumers in the area, the substances being used by the fishermen have affected the quality of the fish sold to the public.
One reason for the prevalence of blast fishing is that explosives are cheap and easily accessible to fishers. Dynamite is usually sourced from mining, demolition, and road construction enterprises.
The fishmongers noted that fish sold at the Kpong Landing Beach are contaminated with the chemical contents of dynamite which the fishermen use to enhance their catch.
Some of the women say they have incurred huge debts as a result, explaining that the use of illegal methods for fishing cause the fish to rot soon after harvest.
The fishmongers told The Finder that fish harvested with such chemicals also break into pieces when exposed to smoke and heat, thereby affecting their prices and sales.
The women, mostly fishmongers, explained that, often, they see the fishermen carrying some explosive materials in their canoes for fishing.
Soon after, the fishermen would return to the Kpong Landing Beach with a lot of fresh fish, including tilapia for sale.
The women said they became suspicious of the bad fishing methods when they realised that the fish they bought from the fishermen easily changes colour when persevered in its fresh state for two or three days.
The angry women alleged that the fishermen reacted angrily when they were confronted over the issue.
Consequently, the women said they reported the matter to the assemblyman for the Kpong Zongo Electoral Area.
The fishmongers cautioned the general public, especially commuters who make a stopover at Kpong, to be careful of the kind of tilapia they buy in the area.
The illegal fishing practice, they said, is gradually throwing most of them out of business as they often have to spend a lot of money on transportation to and from nearby towns to buy fresh tilapia for sale.
When contacted, Mr Siba Alhassan, the assemblyman for Kpong Zongo Electoral Area, where the landing beach is located, indicated that he had received several of similar complaints and reports from most of the women who trade in fresh fish.
Mr Alhassan promised to meet with the fishermen to sensitise and educate them on the need to maintain a healthy fishing practice.
Dynamite fishing is extremely destructive to the surrounding ecosystem, as the explosion often destroys the coral reef and local habitat that supports the fish.
When the fishermen go out with their boats, one of them will wear fishing gear and go underneath the water looking for schools of fish.
Then he will come back to the boat, prepare, light, and throw the dynamite right into the school of fish. He will wait for five to six minutes, go down and collect what is there.
But the estimated amount that he can collect is only about 20%; the rest gets washed away. The worst thing is that the dynamite breaks all the corals and the area becomes an empty hole.