Aug 04, 2020 News
For many persons in the North Rupununi, fishing is a vital part of their cultural heritage, their way of life. Known for its vast wetlands and abundance of freshwater fisheries, the North Rupununi has seen a significant decrease in its fishing stock over the last decade, attributable to small and medium scale commercial fishing, as well as the significant rise in Rupununi’s population. Climate change has also played a major role in the decrease in the areas freshwater fish stock, which in turn, poses a threat to the livelihood of all those who live there.
It is with this in mind that, the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and several environmental organizations, has teamed up to launch a five-year Sustainable Wildlife Management Programme (SWM) that will ensure the Rupununi continues to offer sustainable options for food security as well as safeguarding the livelihood of its residents while maintaining the regions traditional lifestyles.
In a press release Tuesday last, the NRDDB announced the continuation of the piloting of the General Fisheries Management project, an initiative funded by the European Union, under the SWM Programme in the Rupununi region. According to the NRDDB, the project will see the management and preservation of the Rupununi’s inland fisheries resource in a manner that caters to the region’s
dependence on fresh water fish for sustenance and income.Speaking with Kaieteur News, Project Focal point at NRDDB, Ms. Samantha James iterated that since the commencement of the Sustainable Wildlife Management programme, the NRDDB has collected a large sum of data through community-based surveys and stringent monitoring of the use of freshwater fish in the region.
Explaining further, James pointed out that since there are no regulations governing the use of freshwater fish in Guyana, the SWM along with the NRDDB has been working tirelessly in an effort to gather the necessary information needed to present to the Ministry of Agriculture where these guidelines can then be gazetted.
Furthermore, James said that the objectives of the project include setting out adequate fishing guidelines, monitoring fish stocks and fish consumption and environmental education to the local residents. In addition to this, James noted that the project also provides employment opportunities for persons who are residing in the area. James noted that the General Management fisheries project also provides local persons with the opportunity to understand how they can manage the consumption of their fishing stocks and prevent overfishing.
To date, the NRDDB in collaboration with SWM has conducted numerous public consultations and training sessions with the local residents with the hopes of spreading the message of sustainable management of fresh water fisheries.
James told this paper that teams comprised of both local and international environmentalists have also conducted a series of workshops and training sessions with persons involved in commercial fishing exercises on sustainable use of the fish stock. In addition to this, the team has also conducted monitoring exercises with the aim of determining the quantity and type of fish that is being taking out of the rivers in the area.
As with everything else, the implementation of the five-year project has been met with its own challenges. According to James, some member communities, commercial fishers and individuals have continued to flout the rules in the management plan.
However, the most significant issue faced has been the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Because of social distancing, we have been unable to hold meetings with fishers and community leaders to address and advice on implementation of the plan and research,” James said.
In addition, James was keen to note that the threat of COVID-19 has posed many difficulties since the community census and feedback is necessary for the successful implementation of the management plan nonetheless; the board indicated that the Fisheries Team is committed to ensuring the continuation of its work through strict adherence to the COVID-19 guidelines.
According to the NRDDB, a diverse and rich fish stock is important not only for the rivers, but for helping to maintain a thriving ecosystem and supporting the many people who depend on the resource for food. The SWM general fisheries project will ensure that community members have equal access to fish resources for home use and commercial use and to support the communities’ ability to create and enforce resource management bylaws for fish use.
All things considered, the NRDDB is of the opinion that, through the implementation of the SWM programme, the Rupununi will see a significant improvement in both the quantity and quality of the region’s fish stock and the safeguarding of the region’s resources for generations to come.
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