Nov 25, 2021 News
—-promises to conduct study to get true picture of situation
Kaieteur News – Months after fishermen have been complaining about low catch and other ills in the industry, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha on Wednesday admitted that there has been a noticeable decline in catches over the years and that the government was in full support of having the necessary analyses done to determine the root cause of the issue.
Mustapha on Wednesday met with stakeholders from the fisheries sector to discuss some of the issues faced and how government can assist with resolving those issues. During the meeting, fishermen raised concerns about the low catches they are currently experiencing and how it has affected their ability to provide for their families. According to a Ministry of Agriculture release, after listening to the fishermen, Mustapha concluded that, “indeed, there has been a noticeable decline in catches over the years and that the government was in full support of having the necessary analyses done to determine the root cause of the issue.” He added: “Let me make it clear, this government will not let the fisheries industry die. We agree that there have been low catches but we have to shy away from making assumptions without proper first conducting a proper analysis. Guyana is not the only country that is being affected by low catches. This is a global phenomenon and the factors will vary from country to country.”
Mustapha told the fishers that the reason behind low catches in one country may not be the reasons behind low catches in another. He said a number of factors can be causing the low catches and, as a government, “we are prepared to work with you to do the work so that we can have a solution to this issue,” Minister Mustapha said.
Minister Mustapha informed the fishermen that the government has since engaged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to assist with conducting an analysis to determine the reason behind the low catches. He also told the fisher folk that a collective effort between the government and players in the fisheries sector is needed to address the issue of low catches in Guyana. The FAO, which focuses on issues relating to food, around the world has assisted governments with conducting similar analyses in other countries.
Kaieteur News reported on Monday that fishermen in Guyana are reporting a rapid decline in catch, and predicting that they may very well be out of jobs in the next five years even as they attributed this to ExxonMobil’s operations offshore.
A key report from the American multinational has warned that there will be significant impact on the nation’s marine resources, due to the cumulative impact of those oil related activities. This disclosure was made in the project documents for the Yellowtail development in the Stabroek Block, operated by ExxonMobil’s subsidiary, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL).
The report, which formed the premise for the recently concluded countrywide consultations on the Yellowtail development, noted that there are several exploration and development activities planned or are already in operation by EEPGL. These include the US$3.5B Liza Phase I Development, the US$6B Liza Phase II Development, and the US$9B Payara Development projects.
EEPGL said, it is continuing with a rapid exploration and drilling programme in the Stabroek Block alongside works on its fiber optic cable installation project, an onshore Guyana Office Campus, and the US$900M Gas to Energy Project.
It is also poised to drill 24 wells across the Kaieteur and Canje blocks, which border the Stabroek concession. It said too that the oil related activities will result in changes in marine nutrient cycle, resulting in localized and temporary changes in phytoplankton (a type of microalgae) species distribution, and impacts on gene flow. In spite of the foregoing, EEPGL said citizens and local authorities ought to be assured that the project will adopt a number of embedded controls, mitigation measures, and management plans. The ExxonMobil subsidiary said these are considered sufficient to address the contributions of the project to cumulative impacts.
Local fishermen however are not comforted by the oil company’s assurances. “Ever since them man start drill we seabed out deh we catch gone very low. I in this business like since I was a child. In the earlies, from like 2007 when I start catch fish to like 2016. We used to get an exciting catch. But you see from like 2016 to now; presently, we catch is like going and strain water cause when we go out there we would just catch back lil gas money and something to feed the family. You can’t presently do nothing for yourself with this fish,” Stayon Frank, a fisherman who retails fish in the Stabroek Market told the Kaieteur News recently.
He opined that the only way to keep the sector alive may be to create nurseries at home, as he sees the business slowly becoming extinct. “Next five years we won’t get this type of fish here in Guyana anymore. Right now, the fish getting smaller and smaller. Is bare small fish. We might have to start mining fish in we back yard to keep this hustle alive,” the frustrated vendor told this newspaper.
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