Guyana among countries to benefit from US$9.5M FAO fisheries project

Fishing boats anchored at the Number 65 Fishing Dock [Guyana Chronicle photo]

Guyana is among the three countries in the Caribbean that will be benefitting from a US$9.5 million project being implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.

The initiative is geared towards building the capacity to fish using a sustainable ecosystem approach.

The other countries slated to benefit are Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) and Suriname. In a statement, it was explained by the FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean that the Global Environment Facility (GEF) within the United Nations provided grant funding of US$1.7 million for the project.

Additionally, US$7.8 million in co-financing was raised from private and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), bringing the total money invested in the project, which will benefit 12,000 persons in Guyana, Suriname and T&T, to US$9.5 million.

The FAO explained that the project will start in the first quarter of 2023 and last for a period of 48 months. Among its aims are to encourage small-scale fisheries to adopt more sustainable fishing practices through new business opportunities and supporting knowledge management and lesson learning.

The project has already had a preparatory phase workshop which was attended by more than 70 persons representing fisherfolk, regional fisheries bodies, Government, civil society organisations, private sector and academia.

FAO collaborated with the fisheries agencies in Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago to host the workshop in April, which among other things, had the objective of presenting a workplan for the project document.

According to FAO Lead Technical Officer for the project, Marcelo Vasconcellos, the initiative aims to advance adoption and implementation of the ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF) in the shrimp and groundfish fisheries in the North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem.

“The countries of Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago will be participating in the project which is intended to improve 5,982,900 hectares of marine habitat, contribute to moving 22,000 tonnes of marine fisheries to more sustainable levels, and benefit 8000 males and 4000 females including fisherfolk, fishing communities, Government agencies, relevant public and private sector, civil society, and academia,” the FAO regional office explained.

On its own, Guyana has already been making significant strides towards improving its fisheries industry. Recently, President Dr Irfaan Ali announced a commercial marine-cage fish farming project in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), which would seek to produce 11 metric tonnes of fish every nine months. This would also be a youth-driven project, with the assistance of the Government’s technical officers.

The President also recently announced the roll out of a one-off cash grant to the tune of $150,000, which will go to each of the thousands of registered local fisherfolk, across the country. He explained that this measure this intended as a direct help for those thousands of persons who depend on the fishing industry to sustain them.

Last year, President Ali had declared that his Government would be pursuing an aggressive campaign to dismantle regional barriers to agricultural trade and that in the next four years, with the assistance of boosted production and more diversified crops, Guyana would aim to reduce Caricom’s food import bill by 25 per cent, by 2025. Fishing is categorised as an agricultural sector.

Months after assuming office, President Ali had charged the Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ministry with assessing and addressing the hurdles related to exporting food and agricultural products to markets within the Region. As such, concerns about barriers to trade in some Caricom markets were raised with the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) earlier this year.

The Ministry subsequently formed a National Working Group on Barriers to Trade against Exports from Guyana. According to the assessment on market access by the Working Group, most of the challenges found were related to technical measures, including sanitary and phytosanitary measures. It also found several technical and administrative regulations that were all hampering the export of Guyanese products.