Guyana aims to become global leader in sustainable seabob fishing

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A catch of seabob [FAO photo]

Improved fishing practices, better compliance with regulations and higher quality and safety of the end product – these are the core elements of a 10-year plan endorsed on Wednesday by key partners of Guyana’s seabob sector. The plan aims to strengthen the country as a leading exporter of Atlantic seabob shrimp, while ensuring long-term stability of stocks and bringing more prosperity to the people.

In a bid to improve the sector’s performance in the face of concerns over declining catches, a broad coalition of partners has joined hands with FISH4ACP, a global initiative of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) with funding of the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), working to strengthen fish value chains.

“The European Union supports this comprehensive strategy for a more sustainable and productive seabob value chain,” said Dr Fernando Ponz Cantó, Ambassador of the European Union office in Guyana. He added: “[the value chain strategy] looks at responsible management of shrimp stocks and reducing bycatch, as well as the economic development of Guyana, while also improving livelihoods and food security.”

This project is implemented through the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the Fisheries Department, Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and national fisherfolk organizations. At the launch ceremony, Permanent Secretary of MOA, Ms. Delma Nedd reiterated the government’s commitment to the fisheries sector which is of critical importance to the economy, food security and livelihood. Ms. Nedd noted, “the government has pledged a 65 percent increase in the 2022 budget in support the fisheries sector.

Responding, Pameshwar Narine, Chairman of The Guyana National Fisherfolk Organization (GNFO) noted, “we as the artisanal fishers are grateful for this initiative, we are very concerned about the industry and thankful for this support’’.

With an annual harvest of 17,000 tonnes, valued at an estimated USD 46 million, Guyana is the world’s largest producer of Atlantic seabob shrimp. Employing over 1,600 people, the seabob shrimp sector is made up of industrial firms that export frozen peeled shrimp to markets in North America and Europe.

At the meeting on Wednesday, 40 representatives of Guyana’s seabob sector – artisanal and industrial fishers, processors, market vendors, and other industry stakeholders – embraced a vision of a sustainable, resilient, well-managed and inclusive fishery. They agreed that improved fishing practices, better compliance with regulations and higher quality and safety of the end product are essential to realize this vision.

FAO Representative in Guyana Dr. Gillian Smith urged participants to work closely together, “Strong collaboration among stakeholders is the pathway for more inclusive and sustainable livelihoods which result in success for all”. Dr. Smith highlighted that the challenges and opportunities that exist and that will emerge will be best addressed by collaborative efforts.

At the launch, representatives of the value chain, Mr. Pameshwar Narine, Chairman of GNFO, Mr. Reuben Charles President of Guyana Association of Trawler Owners and Seafood Processors, Desha Husbands Chair of the Seabob Working Group, and Mr. Denzil Roberts, Chief Fisheries Officer of the Fisheries Department, , signed the Georgetown Declaration.

This declaration embodies the commitment of all major groups of stakeholders to support and monitor the Guyana’s seabob shrimp value chain to ensure a healthy future for the industry. [Extracted and Modified from DPI]