Nov 15, 2021 News
– as Exxon downplays impact from its operations
Kaieteur News – Amid a shortage of fish here, supermarkets are now stocking their freezers with imported fish and shrimp from Florida and Jamaica. And while local fishermen have sought to blame the situation on ExxonMobil’s ongoing oil operations in Guyana’s waters, the American oil giant has downplayed this, saying impacts from its operations on marine life is minor to negligible.
Visits to supermarkets in the City have revealed that a number of supermarkets are stocked with imported seafood. When the first six months of 2019, 2020 and 2021 were compared, it was revealed that for the past two years, fish and shrimp production has been declining. This was seen in the recent Bank of Guyana (BoG) Half-Year Report.
According to that report, the fishing industry recorded mixed output performance and this resulted in a smaller reduction of 6.6 percent compared to the 12.1 percent recorded in June 2020. It was also stated that there was a decline in catches of fish and shrimp by 22.1 percent and 11.8 percent, respectively, due to a reduction in the number of fishing vessels operating.
A table in the report illustrated the fish and shrimp production as follows: fish (tonnes); 2019 – 10,378, 2020 – 9,509 and 2021 – 7,406, and for shrimp (tonnes) 2019- 10,046; 2020 – 9,259 and 2021 – 8,171.
Similar to what was reported in the Half-Year Report, the Ministry of Finance’s 2021 Mid-Year Report mirrored the data that was in the BoG report. Both reports highlighted the decline in fish and shrimp production in the country.
According to the Mid-Year Report, the chemical changes in Guyana’s coastal waters have caused a significant decrease in shrimp production. It was also underlined that Guyanese fishermen recorded lower catch rates for white belly shrimp and finfish, and when compared to the same period for the previous year, there was a significant decrease in the production of white belly shrimp and finfish by 75.5 percent and 26.3 percent, respectively.
The significant reduction in the production of white belly shrimp was caused by a change in salinity of coastal waters. Salinity is the degree of saltiness of the water.
Interviews conducted by this publication revealed that our fishermen have been “catching hell”.
Kaieteur News had received numerous reports of a rapid depletion of fish in Guyana’s waters and that a number of fishermen have blamed poor regulations by the Government for issuing too many fishing licences, thereby causing the sea to become overcrowded with fishing boats.
On the other hand, others believe that it might be as a result of the ongoing exploration, drilling and production of crude by ExxonMobil. In light of this, no independent study has been made public by the government about the effects these oil operations have on the nation’s marine life.
However, during the recent Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) consultation for the fourth oil project in Guyana waters, the American oil giant company stated that the possible environmental impacts to marine fish, their operations might have is negligible to minor. They presented to the forum that the changes in fish distribution due to altered water quality, is negligible to minor, while they reported that the changes in distribution and habitat usage, loss of fish eggs and larvae due to entrainment of immature life stages, loss of fish eggs and larvae due to entrainment of immature life stages and exposure to artificial light and sound are negligible. The American oil giant also presented that their offshore structures create artificial habitat for marine fish and that they are adhering to international standards for treatment of discharges to water.
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