As Guyana moves towards an oil producing nation, calls are being made for the protection of the country’s marine life, now that exploration is at its peak and extraction slated to commence in 2020.
These calls were made on Wednesday when the Maritime Administration of Guyana (MARAD) hosted its Maritime Conference 2019, which features international and local stakeholders who explored different measures the country can undertake to safeguard its marine life.
“[The Government] is urged to consider that implementation is critical to safeguarding Guyana’s marine environment within which port-state inspection plays a crucial role in ensuring that shipping takes place securely, safely and efficiently on clean oceans,” says Colin Young, regional advisor of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
The IMO is a global agency which creates standards and regulates the performance of international shipping. Through a regulatory framework, it ensures that these standards are adopted and implemented, eliminating a pathway for ship operators to cut costs by running unsafe operations.
“The safer a ship is, the less likely it is to become involved in an accident, sustain damage or spills cargo or bunkers to the detriment of the maritime environment or cause the loss of life,” Young stated.
On the other hand, Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson admitted that there is much more to be done, including a revision of the legislation.
“As we recognise the projected transformation that our country will embrace, we also acknowledge that there is much more to complete, including revising and updating of our legislation to reflect the current reality.”
Guyana is now on the forefront as home to the world’s largest new deep-water oil discovery and ExxonMobil’s intention to develop the oil reserves puts production date in early 2020 or possibly late 2019.
The Audit Office of Guyana has begun training to conduct environmental audits, which will come in handy to monitor the oil and gas sector.
Auditor General, Deodat Sharma had informed that the audits will firstly focus on the protection of the nesting ground of the four endangered species of turtles in Guyana, in the event of an oil spill.
While oil spills are seen as a detriment to these species, basic offshore operations can affect marine animals. These include the release of sound waves into the ocean and the disposal of waste materials.