Corentyne Fishermen’s Co-operative Society Chairman Parmashwar Jainarine on Wednesday disclosed that some 10 per cent of fishing boats have been affected by bankruptcy since July 2020.
He made this statement during a panel discussion hosted by the United States Embassy, titled “The challenges of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing”.
Jainarine stated that this is owing to unregulated and illegal fishing within Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Additionally, he said that in the latter part of 2020, fisherfolk were greeted by unseasonal high winds which caused major hinderances to their trade.
In relation to unregulated fishing, he explained, currently, Corentyne waters are flooded with an excessive number of fishing vessels. As a result, there is a lack of space for vessels which leads to an increase in marine incidents.
“No background checks are being made. No assessment is being done to see if that particular area you want fish in can accommodate more vessels,” he added.
Moreover, he noted that when vessels operated in congested waters, many nets become entangled. He explained that this usually resulted in high costs for fishermen and boat owners as they would have to return to shore to cut and untangle the nets, thus missing out on a day’s catch.
Meanwhile, Jainarine said there has been an increase in the number of illegal fishing vessels. He explained that this usually deprived licensed vessels. He added that illegal operators would often overfish, thus leaving little to no catch for legal operators.
Moreover, he highlighted, when the catch is taken back to the landing sites, illegal fishermen would sell their purchase on the same market and to the same consumers as the licensed fishers. He explained that owing to this, illegal fishers were operating within the same market space at a cheaper cost and as such, were able to garner larger profits.
Echoing similar concerns, Chief Fisheries Officer Denzil Roberts added that illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing affected the local law-abiding fishermen. He further added that the illegal practices could, over time, impact the availability of fish in Guyana.
Nevertheless, Roberts posited that the Agriculture Ministry’s Fisheries Department was slowly building up its capacity to address the matter. He explained that this would be possible through the Fisheries Department monitoring vessel which is slated to commence operations within the next two months.
He said that the Fisheries Department was also working earnestly with the Coast Guard to provide as much monitoring as possible.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Commander David Shamsudeen stated that of Guyana’s 54,000 square nautical miles of sea space, the Coast Guard was only able to patrol some 12 nautical miles. He said this was as a result of a lack of resources.
Lieutenant Commander Shamsudeen highlighted that Coast Guard coverage of such a small portion of the maritime space provided easy access to international illegal fishers entering Guyana’s EEZ and local illegal fishers.
The discussion also included Head of the Guyana Marine Conservation Society, environmentalist Annette Arjoon-Martins and President of the Upper Corentyne Chamber of Commerce, Krishnand Jaichand among others.