Ghana given ‘Yellow Card’ by the European Commission following iWatch’s investigation on illegal fishing

The Ghanaian government’s failure to tackle illegal fishing has resulted in a second yellow card – a formal warning that could lead to a seafood export ban to the EU. This warning follows an investigation by iWatch Africa’s Gideon Sarpong and People’s Gazette Elfredah Kevin-Alerechi in December, 2020.

“The recently appointed Fisheries Minister must break with the past to enforce Ghana’s own laws and eradicate illegal fishing, while ensuring transparency across the industry that will expose illegal operators and reward those who abide by the law,” the European Commission statement read.

Ghana’s waters have been plagued by Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing practices for decades. In particular, saiko is a severely destructive form of illegal fishing, where industrial trawlers illegally target the staple catch of small-scale canoe fishers and transfer it to specially adapted boats at sea for sale at local markets. The practice is having a severe impact on Ghana’s ‘small pelagic’ fish populations, and sardinella is already on the brink of collapse, with landings having crashed by 80% over the past twenty years.

Elizabeth Afoley, a former Ghanaian Fisheries Minister also lost her parliamentary seat in December, 2020 following the investigation and partly due to her failure to deal with IUU in Ghanaian waters.

Read full statement issued by the European Commission here.

Read investigation: Stolen at sea: An investigation into illegal Chinese transhipment activities in Ghana and Nigeria

Credit: iWatch Africa |

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Gideon Sarpong

Gideon Sarpong is a policy analyst and media practitioner with close to a decade of experience in policy, data and investigative journalism. Gideon is a co-founder of iWatch Africa. He is an author; a fellow of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), Thomson Reuters Foundation, Commonwealth Youth Program ,Free Press Unlimited and Bloomberg Data for Health Initiative. Gideon is the founder of Sustainable Ocean Alliance Ghana. He was a 2021 Policy Leader Fellow at the European University Institute, School of Trans-national Governance in Florence, Italy and 2020/21 Open Internet For Democracy Leader. Gideon was also a 2022 Visiting Scholar/Reuters Fellow at the University of Oxford, UK and was selected as a 2022 TRF/Trust Conference Changemaker. He is currently the Africa Regional Cordinator for Environmental Justice Foundation and a 2023 Pulitzer ORN Fellow. Email:

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