In view of the social and economic problems caused by Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, a workshop aimed at building Guyana’s capacity to arrest illegal fishing in its own waters was launched
The workshop, which opened at Cara Lodge, was organized under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture’s Fisheries division. Participants were drawn from Guyana’s Coast Guard, Police Force and other Ministries and departments.
Addressing the workshop was FAO’s representative to Guyana, Reuben Robertson. He laid out the harmful effects of violations within the fisheries industry. eHe called for Guyana to build its capacity for regulating the industry, if the industry is to have a chance of being saved.
“IUU fishing continues to be a threat to effective conservation and management of fisheries resources in the Caribbean region, despite many efforts by governments and other stakeholders. Because of IUU fishing the Government of Guyana is failing to achieve the nationally agreed fisheries management goals and objectives.”
Robertson, who took over his role as FAO’s representative last year, noted that the practice causes loss of both short and long term social and economic opportunities, as well as create detrimental effects on food security and environmental protection.
“If IUU fishing is not dealt with, it can lead to the collapse of fisheries or seriously impair efforts to rebuild stocks that have already been depleted,” he continued. “IUU fishermen are unlikely to follow rules and regulations to protect the aquatic environment and stocks from harmful fishing activities.”
“They often violate basic safety-at-sea requirements, putting themselves and others at risk. The IUU fishermen gain an unjust advantage over legitimate fishermen. They benefit unfairly from sacrifices made by legitimate fishermen for the sake of stock conservation and fisheries management. IUU fishermen are free riders.”
He also pointed out the benefits that have followed when port state measures were adopted by fisheries management organizations including the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). These include decommissioning vessels, a tactic he noted severely affected illegal fishermen.
“An increasing number of countries and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOS) are working to implement the measures through laws, policies, operational procedures and improved intelligence and communications.”
He welcomed Guyana becoming the fourth Caribbean country, after St. Kitts and Nevis, Barbados and Cuba, to join other countries that have implemented port state measures including vessel inspections, denying defaulters use of port and adhering to port entrance best practices. Guyana became the 22nd government to ratify the agreement
“FAO expects that the port state measures agreement will enter into force within two months, when the 25th ratification has been obtained.”
Acknowledging that there was no “quick fix” for the issue, he stated that the workshop would build on what was presented before, as well as increase the capacity of local institutions and human resources so that recommended measures can be implemented.
Ministry of Agriculture’s Permanent Secretary, George Jervis, also commented on the matter, noting the importance of a Memorandum of Understand (MoU) in order to address illegal fishing.
Back in November 2009, FAO had held a conference during which an agreement on port state measures to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU. The international agreement had established a duty for states to adopt measures that would put an end to ‘ports of convenience’ and ‘non-compliance’.
These ports would attract IUU fishing vessels because of the lax controls. The argument has been made that with these regulations in place, port state authorities will no longer unwittingly let foreign IUU fishing vessels into their ports.
The measures include; denial of port entry to vessels known or suspected to be engaged in IUU fishing; denial of port facilities and services; inspection of vessels and the provision that while port states may allow IUU vessels into harbours, this would just be a prerequisite for enforcement action.
In view of all these measures, an adequate and well trained fisheries inspectorate would be a key feature in the successful implementation. Around the world, IUU is estimated to cost billions each year.
Photo saved in Tuesday as- group
Photo caption- the group of participants; seated in the foreground from left are: Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, George Jervis; FAO representative, Reuben Robertson; FAO sub-regional Fisheries Officer, Raymon VanAnrooy and Chief Fisheries Officer, Denzil Roberts
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