Jun 14, 2013 News Comments Off on Depletion of fishing stock targeted in new management plan
By Keeran Danny
Reversing Guyana’s depleting marine stock would require periodic assessments of stock levels as outlined in the Fisheries Department’s new Management Plan 2013-2018, says Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, Agriculture Minister.
He attributed overfishing as the primary reason for the depleting fish stock, which fishermen, without any scientific knowledge, have observed and brought to his attention. As such, he stressed, there needs to be an effective system in place to maintain the stock since fishing is an extensive economic operation, with the sea having enormous resources.
“It is unlike an aquaculture farm where we can restock, and therefore we have to ensure we don’t remove fishing beyond its natural propagation. If we are removing faster than it can be propagated, it is a resource that can be depleted… then any country that depends on that industry in a significant way is going to be affected,” the Minister declared.
Addressing participants of the “Stakeholders Validation Workshop” yesterday at Grand Coastal Inn, Le Ressouvenir, East Coast Demerara, where the final draft of the Management Plan was being discussed, Dr. Ramsammy said that the depletion of the important resource is a threat to Guyana’s economic viability.
“We have to have fishing done in a manner that prevents the depletion of that resource. There will need to be periodic assessments of the marine stock and I am glad to see that it in fact is included in the Management Plan.”
The Minister emphasised that there are active programmes between Guyana and CARICOM looking at stock assessment in the marine environment. Those projects have been in place for some time and he expressed hope that they would accelerate.
According to Dr. Ramsammy, there are some measures in place locally to address the decreasing stock level. For instance, the Guyana Trawler Owners’ Association has periods where there is zero activity and this is to ensure that the fish stock is not under constant stress.
“Every country, if it has an organised industry, must address the challenge of overfishing …Thank those trawler association and entrepreneurs who have worked with us…Thank them for agreeing that we can’t keep issuing licences, we have to restrict the licences so that we do not cause overfishing, in terms of the environment.”
Currently, Guyana produces more fish than it can consume and the excess is exported. Without any options the country needs to organise its fishing industry to meet the rigid requirements of countries that import local marine products.
“Fishing assumes its economic and social importance because most of what we produce is exported. In order to be part of the export and food security solution of the Region, and of the world, we have to be part of an organised system,” the Minister said.
He stressed that fishing in Guyana has long moved away from “villagers fishing” to being part of CARICOM, which also has a draft policy that would have to be adopted and used. Because Guyana is part of CARICOM, he stated, the Management Plan should be consistent with the Common Fishing Policy in the Caribbean.
Dr. Ramsammy added that for Guyana to be part of an organised global system it must ensure that the local fishing industry is part of global efforts to prevent illicit, unregulated and unreported fishing.
“We have to be ready to move on from our historically ad hoc systems to a more formal system…the licencing requirements and reporting requirements must all be in place if we are to be part of this global system.”
Emphasising the rigidity of the overseas market, Ramsammy said that the United States of America is finalizing its new food regulations. Foods, whether processed or non-processed, entering the USA, would have a quantum leap in terms of rigidity as of January 2014. Therefore, some products would not be allowed into that market unless and until they reach a certain requirement.
Minister Ramsammy related that the European Union and Canadian markets already have stiff requirements and regulations.
“Just in case people don’t know why we need to organise the industry and have rules and regulations, I hope now you know. It is not an option we have.”
According to Chief Fisheries Officer Denzil Roberts, the Management Plan was developed through consultations, and was made possible through the EU-ACP Fish II project.
He said that the workshop would focus on discussing the plan with the aim of finalising it. The Fisheries Department will be implementing the plan and expect that it will have a significant impact on the industry.
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