The Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Division is one of the five (5) divisions of the Fisheries Commission. It is responsible for the monitoring, control and surveillance of all fishing operations within the fishery waters of Ghana by whatever appropriate means. This include, the management and running of a satellite base station for data transmission relating to the activities of foreign fishing vessels licensed to operate within the zone, the enforcement of the Fisheries Act 625, the Regulations and any other enactment relating to the regulation of fishing activities.
The core functions of the division are to:
- Monitor all Ghanaian and foreign fishing vessels using the VMS and/or AIS and
- Enforce the Fisheries Act 625 and Regulations and any other enactment relating to the regulation of fishing activities to fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing activities in our fisheries waters.(both marine and inland)
To achieve these functions, the division carries out the following and other activities:
- VMS OPERATIONS: All Ghanaian flagged vessels are fitted with Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) and are monitored 24/7 in the Fisheries Monitoring Centre (FMC) at Tema.
- AUTOMATIC IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM (AIS)
All sea going vessels are fitted with AIS mainly for safety purposes to avoid collision at sea. It however also enables vessels to be monitored through the transmission of satellite data.
- LAND PATROL (BEACH COMBING): The Fisheries Enforcement Unit (FEU) which was established in 2013, complements MCSD in undertaking patrols along the coast of Ghana from Aflao in the east to New Town in the west. During this operations, prohibited fishing items such as light bulbs, generators, illegal nets among others are seized to deter fishermen from engaging in illegal fishing activities.
- SEA AND VOLTA LAKE PATROL: MCS personnel join naval ships to conduct sea and Volta Lake patrols. During these operations, vessels are stopped at random and inspected. Those found engaged in illegal activities are arrested and prosecuted.
- QUAYSIDE INSPECTIONS: All vessels are inspected at the Tema and Takoradi harbour. Documents such as fishing license, crew list, ship particulars, cargo manifest, logbook and captain’s certificate, are inspected to ensure that they are valid and authentic. If an infraction is spotted, the vessel is detained and investigations carried out. If the vessel is found guilty after the investigation, an arrest is made and prosecution carried out.
- OBSERVER MISSION ON INDUSTRIAL TRAWLERS: All industrial vessels have fisheries observers placed on-board. These observers are mandated to report on activities of the vessel at sea.
- PROSECUTION OF INFRACTIONS: Fisheries infractions are normally prosecuted by a lawyer seconded to the FEU after going through all the necessary processes. The law also allows cases to be settled out of court. For this reason, there exists a Fisheries Settlement Committee, responsible for the settlement of cases out of court. The committee is made up of representatives from the Attorney General’s Department, Fisheries Commission, Ghana Navy and the Marine Police. MCS plays a role in the prosecution processes.
- CLOSED SEASON MONITORING: The MCS is engaged in closed season monitoring for all fishing fleets comprising the canoes, semi-industrial and industrial vessels. It is done through land patrol (beach combing), sea patrol and Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) at the Fisheries Monitoring Centre (FMC) in collaboration with Fisheries Enforcement Unit.
- SUPERVISED TRANSHIPMENT AT PORT: Transhipment (mostly tuna vessels) is supervised at the port in Tema and Takoradi. MCS Division staff go on-board to inspect and supervise transhipment activities on board at the port.
- COMMUNITY SENTIZATION: The MCSD undertakes community sensitization programmes in fishing communities to educate them on the fisheries laws and regulations, effect of unauthorized fishing methods/IUU on the fish stocks, the environment and even their livelihoods among others.
- INTER AGENCY/CIVIL SOCIETY COLLABORATIONS: The MCSD collaborates with other agencies and civil society groups in performance of its mandate.
They include Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), Bureaux of National Investigation (BNI), Narcotic Controls Board (NACOB), National Security, Immigration Service, Fisheries Committee for West and Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC), Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), Friends of the Nation (FON), Stop Illegal Fishing (SIF), USAID etc.