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Plenty of fishermen, not so many fish

Ghana's fishermen struggle as large foreign trawlers scoop up fish along the ocean floor.

“Giving out permits is done by politicians — let me put it that way,” Markwei said. “When a civil servant goes up, you have no say, because if my minister asks me to license and register a ship, I won't say no.”

Ghana's previous presidential administration placed a ban on the most devastating forms of trawling, but proved unable to enforce it. “I hear it's getting even worse now,” said Hutchful.

The fleet of speedboats sent to enforce the ban had a hard time catching up with the trawlers, so they turned their attention to canoe fishers like the men at Jamestown, whose undersized nets and child labor practices make them an easy, slow-moving target.

But the fishers say they are only employing illegal nets and pre-teen boys to stay in business.

Meanwhile, on land, government spokespeople have been traveling into fishing villages, urging sea-weathered fishermen to consider less strenuous day jobs.

“We introduce them to pastry making, kente weaving, tie-and-dye, any vocation,” Markwei said. “Like beads.”

“But we haven't been successful,” she continued. “They'll tell you its fishing they know best and that's what they want to do.”

More GlobalPost dispatches from Ghana:

The politics of Ghana's kente cloth

Ghana's illicit trade in discarded electronics

Nigerians fight bad reps in Ghana

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