Latest update June 2nd, 2023 12:49 AM
Mar 20, 2023 News
…Says department lacks staff, technical and financial capacity
Kaieteur News – The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) in a summary report titled, “The seabob (Xiphopenaeus kroyeri) value chain in Guyana” disclosed that while the country has existing fisheries management policies, their implementation is “weak.”
The FAO’s report was published in January 2023 and is based on “FISH4ACP” which is an initiative of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) to support sustainable fisheries and aquaculture development. The five-year value chain (VC) development programme (2020 to 2025) is implemented by FAO with funding from the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
According to the report, the seabob shrimp value chain in Guyana is one of 12 value chains competitively selected from over 70 proposals worldwide for support from the FISH4ACP programme.
It was explained that the summary report presents the outputs of design work completed during 2021 and early 2022 to conclude a functional analysis of the value chain, assess its sustainability and resilience, develop an upgrading strategy to which the FISH4ACP programme will contribute, and plan for full implementation from mid 2022.
The FISH4ACP methodology used to carry out this study is an approach based on FAO’s Sustainable Food Value Chain and Agrinatura’s Value Chain Analysis for Development methodologies. It has four main components: functional analysis, sustainability assessment, upgrading strategy development, and implementation planning (actions and investments). The approach is highly participatory, involving VC stakeholders from the public and private sectors from the outset in order to ensure national ownership of all four components, thereby increasing the likelihood of success of the project interventions.
It was stated in the FAO’s report that, “The seabob VC actors operate in an enabling environment consisting of various societal elements (i.e. institutional, organizational, socio-cultural and infrastructural elements) and natural elements.”
To this end, the report highlighted that while the relevant fisheries management policies and management plans already exist, “their implementation is weak.” It was explained that the aforementioned is largely due to: the lack of staff/offices and technical and financial capacity of the fisheries department; limited incentives; limited capacity of value chain actors (particularly the artisanal ones) to comply with regulations; and the dysfunction of organizations that are essential to support effective compliance and stakeholder engagement like the Artisanal Fisheries Advisory Committee (AFAC).
“The dysfunction of fishers’ cooperatives and AFAC, in turn, is mainly attributed to poor management and governance of the cooperatives, which undermine members’ trust in them. The natural environment is generally supportive of the VC operations,” it was stated in the report.
However, it was noted that the increase of sargassum seaweed since 2011 is reported to have changed the availability and distribution of fisheries resources and caused difficulties for fishers to access seabob resources. Additionally, climate change, mainly characterized by changing rainfall, may affect the abundance and recruitment of seabob, which in turn affects fishing operations, particularly artisanal Chinese seine fishers who rely on tides to capture seabob.
Importantly, it was highlighted that, “More research is needed to understand the impacts of these natural elements on seabob resources in particular, and the broader ecosystems in general.”
Last week, Kaieteur News reported that according to the report, since 2017, Guyana’s seabob catch has been declining.
For the functional analysis, it was disclosed that there are two channels in Guyana’s value chain; the export-oriented industrial channel and the artisanal channel.
It was explained that the industrial channel accounts for almost all (99 percent) the total seabob catch in Guyana, and is the larger of the two channels while the artisanal channel accounts for a mere 1 percent of total seabob catch.
“During 2015 to 2020, three industrial seabob firms in Guyana produced around 7 600 tonnes of peeled seabob per year (17 000 tonnes fresh, whole weight equivalent),” it was noted.
From this it was stated that about 93 percent was exported to markets in the United States of America (USA) and the European Union (EU) and 7 percent was sold to local supermarkets, hotels and restaurants.
For artisanal seabob catch, the 1 percent is around 180 tonnes per year, in fresh, whole weight equivalent. It was stated that the artisanal fishermen focus on supplying the domestic market with fresh unpeeled seabob, fresh peeled seabob and dried seabob.
Importantly, it was highlighted that the total seabob catch has decreased since 2017, stating that this was as a result of decline of the industrial catch.
According to the report, the industrial firms attribute this drop in catch to a reduction in fishing effort as a result of an increase in sargassum and an inability to find and capture seabob, possibly due to a declining stock. For those unfamiliar, sargassum is a group of large brown seaweed (a type of algae) that floats in island-like masses and never attaches to the seafloor.
It was also stated that challenges to fishing effort were further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, it was pointed out in the report that the reasons for fluctuating and declining catch are not well-studied which is in turn mainly due to a lack of action from Guyana’s Fisheries Department and the private actors in this regard, implying a critical need to conduct studies to investigate the problem, identify the root causes and take proper actions to ensure the sustainability of the seabob stock.
Recently, concerns have been raised about declining fish catch, with accusations from the fisherman that the decline was owed to the oil operations offshore Guyana. In response to the accusations the Government hastily in collaboration with the FAO conducted a study but the full report was not released to the public.
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