As stocks dwindle alarmingly, authorities say that they are moving to stamp out indiscriminate fishing in hinterland areas and that regulations may be coming soon.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, yesterday, the inland fisheries of Guyana has valuable resources that are declining and under threat.
The Ministry of Agriculture’s Department of Fisheries has been mandated by the Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, to develop an Inland Fisheries Policy to regulate and control fishing activities, the Ministry disclosed yesterday in a statement.
“Inland fish stocks are threatened by over fishing and other activities including logging, mining and road construction. These activities, if not properly regulated can result in serious effects on aquatic life and the rights of Amerindian populations in the interior of Guyana. Expanding harvesting of inland fish by non-Amerindians may adversely affect their food supplies and traditional lifestyle.”
The Ministry said that it found an increase in inland fishing activities on a commercial scale.
“The use of seines and nets has become prominent in large quantities. Inland fisheries resources stand threatened and interventions such as a National Inland Fisheries Policy and increased enforcement activities are planned,” the Ministry said.
Recent increases in fishing activities appear to have led to reduced catch sizes for some stocks, and greater efforts are required to catch the same quantity of fish. While there may be some room for increased exploitation, it appears that the stocks are limited.
“In recent years the expansion of human settlements in the interior of the country, often in association with resource extraction activities, has resulted in added pressure to increase harvesting of inland fish resources. Resource extraction activities such as mining and logging together with road construction, increased fishing effort and even tourism activities threaten fish stocks.”
The Ministry warned that the Fisheries Department, with the development of an Inland Fisheries Policy, will be looking to implement immediate actions to mitigate activities that would threaten the sustainable utilisation of the inland fisheries resources.
“The Inland Fisheries Policy and planned interventions will all be conducted in full consultation with all stakeholders. The goal of developing an Inland Fisheries Policy is to achieve sustainable levels of production, productivity and real incomes for fishery producers and other groups involved in the delivery of products to domestic and other markets.”
The Ministry pointed out that the Fisheries Legislation 2002 has put in place the legal framework for effective fisheries management and development. It is under the authority of this act that the newly developed Inland Fishery Policy will be empowered, it was revealed.
Already, the Fisheries Department has engaged the FAO in assisting with the development of the Inland Fisheries Policy for Guyana. The Department and the FAO have executed an Inland Fisheries Policy Project Formulation Mission in June 2010.
“During this mission to Annai and Yupukari consultations were had with various communities in the hinterland. These include the Fair View community, Kurupukari, Annai, the Bina Hill Institute, Yupukari, Rewa, Surama, Iwokrama and the Rockstone community.”
Among some of the measures that are being considered are using aquaculture as an alternative to fish production and enhancement of wild inland fish stocks.
Authorities will not be averse to have protected areas where fish may spawn. The protected areas will have to be identified and monitored, the Ministry said.
Closed seasons should be determined to ensure regeneration of species and there will be possible limitations on gear and fishing effort by regulating gear type, mesh size and amount of gear.
“In the interim, the Ministry of Agriculture will be moving to apprehend persons fishing indiscriminately in inland areas,” the Ministry warned yesterday.
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