Fishermen want authorities to investigate impacts of oil exploration on industry

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The Guyana Association of Trawler Owners and Seafood Processors (GATOSP) has asked the Ministry of Agriculture, particularly the Fisheries Advisory Committee (FAC) and the Guyana Fisheries Limited Board (GFLB), to investigate the effects of oil exploration is having on the low level of catches.

Representation was made by President of the GATOSP, Ruben Charles during a meeting with stakeholders in the fishing industry and the Minister of Agriculture on Tuesday.

“Lots of things have happened and I’m glad that I’m in a position to say something about the future of the industry. Our organisation, the Trawlers Association is experiencing some difficulty now in terms of catch levels and members of that association are, without any scientific guidance, are attributing that to the drilling of oil out there. One of the things we would be seeking is to see how we can mount some investigation to prove whether that is so,” Charles said.

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha promised that the issues surrounding low catches will be addressed, adding that the Board and the committee have the Ministry’s full support to make representation for studies to be conducted to determine whether oil exploration activities are indeed affecting the sector and a determining a sustainable way forward for the sector.

The Minister said that Guyana’s fisheries industry will, over the next five years, realise its full potential as government continues to direct its efforts towards crafting policies geared at ensuring sustainability of the sector. He added fisheries, has over the years, evolved into one of the largest income earners for the economy, raking in some $16B in 2020.

“We all know the importance of the fishing industry in supporting the economy of our country and government has been putting a lot of effort and resources into the sector. It contributes almost 12 per cent to the agriculture GDP, provides employment with over 15,000 persons directly employed in the industry, and is a large income generator, especially in the rural areas across our country,” Mustapha said.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the Minister charged the FAC and GFLB with examining issues faced in the sector and providing recommendations to move the sector forward.