Sep 25, 2023 News
Kaieteur News – Amidst concerns by fishermen that their catches have been declining, a Bank of Guyana (BoG) report has indicated that fish catch in Guyana has dropped by 8.7 percent during the first half of the year.
The figure was published in the 2023 Half-Year Report published by the BoG recently.
According to the document, the decrease in catch was as a result of the presence of sargassum weed, between mid-February to May 2023.
The half -year report also includes a table provided a comparison of fish catch in Guyana for the period January to June over the past three years.
It indicated that fish production moved from 7,404 tonnes in 2021 t0 7,477 tonnes in 2022. However, the figure dipped to 6,827 tonnes in 2023
The information comes amidst worrisome sentiments by local fisher folks over the decline in their catch.
Over the past three years, local fishermen have reported a decline in catch, predicting that they may very well be out of jobs in the next five years even as they attribute the loss to ExxonMobil Guyana’s oil exploration activities offshore.
Fishermen have complained repeatedly about the low catch being experienced and though it may be a tough pill for some to swallow, Exxon recently confirmed that its operations are likely to affect fish and the livelihoods of fishermen, as studies conducted by the company’s Consultant, Environmental Resources Management (ERM) have concluded that the marine species could effectively turn broth during production activities.
ERM’s Senior Project Manager and Technical Support, Jason Willey recently explained that during production activities offshore, the Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessels require sea water to be used as a cooling substance. He also pointed out that the sea water is required on a “continuous basis” for this purpose.
More importantly, Willey, a biologist within the ERM team, explained that thousands, if not millions of fish eggs could be lost in the process, should this activity occur during spawning or reproductive season. “If the intake occurs at a time when like a spawning event happens, let’s say like when the fish are reproducing, and a lot of eggs and a lot of larvae are in the water, there can be thousands lost, potentially many more than that,” he said.
The biologist added, “It also depends on how many of those eggs and larva a certain pieces produces. Some produce millions of eggs and larva per single female, some produce a handful so it’s a large number of eggs and larva that could potentially be lost.”
During a recent stakeholder engagement, Kaieteur News asked the consultant on likely impacts to the country’s fisheries sector, amid a decline in the fish sector.
Research by this publication found that the fishing and shrimp sector have reduced since 2019. Bank of Guyana (BoG) statistics reveal as follows for shrimp (in tonnes) 2019- 15,808, 2020- 13,543, 2021- 10,962 and in 2022- 10,214. Meanwhile, the Bank reported the following production of fish (in tonnes): 2019- 22,336, 2020- 19,993, 2021- 20,628, 2022- 23,389.
Notably, government has implemented new measures such as aquaculture or cage fishing to boost production numbers, as Exxon predicts likely harm to the sector.
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