Feb 23, 2012 News
By Rabindra Rooplall
Once again, Global Positioning System (GPS) for fishing boats along with improved coast guard monitoring, is being touted by Government and relevant authorities to prevent piracy.
This was disclosed at a Fisherfolk consultation held at the International Convention Centre, Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara yesterday.
Stakeholders in the fishing industry met with the Minister of Public Works and Transport, Robeson Benn, Minister of Agriculture Leslie Ramsammy and Department of Fisheries officials, to underscore matters of interest that would develop the industry.
Also present were representatives from the Guyana Defence Force Coast Guard, Trawler Association, Police, Co-ops, Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) and Search and Rescue Centre.
Groups were formed and opinions were given by each group on how to move forward. There were discussions pertaining to the use of internet, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and GPS, remote sensing and other technological advances to stymie piracy.
This is the first of regular engagement at the national level and at regional levels, as Government tries to enhance fishing within the economy and development of the sector.
Brian Young of Quark Communications Inc. who gave a presentation on use and benefits of a Global Positioning System (GPS) said that if fishermen were to approve and support the technological system, Government would be footing the bill for the service which would enhance the way piracy is dealt with while lives could be saved, and the chances of apprehending pirates could be improved.
Minister Benn said that the meeting was to have a more comprehensive database of persons who are active in the fishing industry to develop maritime safety, security and piracy.
“We’d like to adopt one of the initiatives to have a more comprehensive database of the persons who are active in the industry at various levels, and who are the main players. We want to be able to react to issues of maritime safety and security,” Benn explained.
He said that experiences have shown that with the absence of rapid quick information to the maritime rescue coordination centre, which has communication devices needed to respond to the piracy in the fishing industry, there will always be ineffective maritime search and rescue.
“Even if we were able to acquire some of the assets that coast guards and maritime administration department and search and rescue centres have in other jurisdictions, the effectiveness of the use of those resources depends on the use of the resources… and will only result in any good if there is a good database and early information to preempt any untoward activity,” Benn explained.
Lt. Coast Guard, Adrian Mc Lean said that in his line of duty there is need for adequate information and intelligence about the whereabouts of fishing vessels to assist in the deployment of coast guards to assist fishermen.
He recommended that boats be fitted with GPS, and even surveillance cameras and other tracking devices so that the relevant authorities could locate a vessel in distress.
Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy who is in charge of the sector, emphasized that the fishing industry is an important component in Guyana’s economy and development.
“Guyana is one of few developing countries that have met its MDG (Millennium Development Goal) of feeding its people. In terms of food security, the fishing industry provides a relatively cheap source of animal protein in the Guyanese diet, an essential element in meeting the dietary needs, in meeting the caloric intake and in meeting the balance meal criteria.”
Adding that the fishing industry provides employment to over 15,000 persons directly and indirectly, Ramsammy said this provides significant foreign exchange earnings, as it represents an average of just under three percent (3%) of GDP. Exports over the past three years average about 17, 000 metric tonnes with an average value of $10B Guyana dollars.
He said per capita, fish supplied in Guyana exceeds 58 kg, as compared to approximately 17 kg as a global average.
“This in itself indicates that fishing is important since we exceed the fishing needs related to food security requirements in Guyana and provide a genuine growth pole for exports.”
Ramsammy further noted that aquaculture presently accounts for more than 45 per cent of the global supply.
“In Guyana, however, aquaculture has been growing slowly, but still marine and inland capture fish continues to be the major source of fish supply to meet local demand and for exports. In terms of aquaculture, we have reached an average of about 400,000 kg and an export average of about 56,000 kg annually.”
Underscoring that on the local front, a boat count of artisanal vessels in the last year revealed that there are 1,234 of boats, an increase from the last count in 2005, Ramsammy said of great concern was that only approximately 1/3 had fishing licences last year.
Ramsammy further said that the success and safety of fishing and the various stakeholders depend on the authorities knowing how many persons are engaged directly and indirectly in the industry, and where fishing is done.
He continued: “We need these data, so that, in collaboration with the Coast Guard, MARAD and other stakeholders, we can be able to serve you better, offer more security at sea, and you will be able to receive the benefits that a licenced boat is expected to receive.”
Adding that robbery at sea, especially among the artisanal vessels has been occurring frequently over the years, Ramsammy said his Ministry held discussions with the Coast Guard and MARAD earlier this month and will implement recommendations made by these officials.
He explained that fishermen must recognize that the development of the fishing industry must be done in an environment that takes into consideration the many facets of policy and governance, especially in relation to employment and poverty alleviation, the impact of climate change, biodiversity loss, quality certification and product traceability.
“We must recognize the changing environment in terms of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Global laws and regulations can impede the growth of local fishing industries in developing countries. We must be aware of these emerging issues and position ourselves to be a player within the emerging legal fishing dispensation in our region and regions around the world.”
Jagdeo will make ayo sell ayo bodies to feed ya’ll pickney.
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