Around 90% of Ghana’s industrial fishing fleet is linked to Chinese ownership, an investigation by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) has revealed. This is despite the fact that Ghana’s laws clearly forbid any foreign ownership or control of vessels flying its flag. The Chinese and Ghanaian governments must now work together to eradicate the illegal fishing practices which are rife in Ghana’s industrial fleet, improve transparency and sanction those contravening ownership laws.
To ensure that the financial benefits from industrial fisheries go directly to Ghana, rather than being sent overseas, Ghana’s Fisheries Act states that these craft cannot be owned, or part owned, by any foreign interest, with the sole exception of tuna vessels.
However, EJF has revealed that foreign companies – overwhelmingly Chinese – operate through Ghanaian ‘front’ companies, using opaque corporate structures to import their vessels and register and obtain a licence. In 2015, 90% of industrial trawl vessels licensed in Ghana were built in China, and 95% were captained by Chinese nationals.