By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Agriculture on Wednesday June 03, initiated a national consultation process on the application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures in the fishing sector.
Funded by the European Union, the SPS Measures are among the most relevant for fish trade as it may prove to be the favourite means of protection for countries to prevent the import of substandard produce into their countries.
Some of the more relevant provisions of the SPS Agreement for trade in fish and fish products include the harmonization of some principles with the aim to establish national sanitary and phytosanitary rules reflecting standards agreed in the relevant international institutions such as the Codex Alimentarius for fish products and OIE for live fish.
It also exists when international standards do not exist or harmonization is not appropriate, to use the alternative equivalence principle whereby the importing country accepts that SPS measures in the exporting country achieve an appropriate level of health protection, even though they differ from the measures used in the importing country.
Chief Fisheries Officer Denzil Roberts told the small gathering of stakeholders from the fisheries sector that the consultation was important given that it would pave the way forward for the sector.
“We all need to ensure that when we put a product on a consumer’s plate it is healthy,” he stated.
The consultation will be looking at legislative and governance frameworks surrounding the export of seafood while increasing the capacity of those involved.
EU Ambassador Robert Kopecky noted that the fisheries sector is a fundamental source of livelihoods and sustenance to the millions of persons residing in the Caribbean.
“This resource contributes significantly to food security, poverty alleviation, employment, foreign exchange earnings, development and stability of rural and coastal communities, culture, recreation and tourism. The sub sector provides direct employment for more than 120,000 fishers and indirect employment opportunities for thousands of others particularly women, in the processing, marketing, boat building, net making and other support services,” he said.
He stated too that there is great potential for expansion into ecologically sustainable aquaculture production within the region. This can be achieved both inland using freshwater and in the coastal areas using marine species and sea water.
“The expansion of aquaculture will not only help to meet the high and growing demand for fish protein and employment, but should also reduce the pressure on wild stocks of fish thus giving them an opportunity to recover from over-exploitation and also help in the preservation of other marine life,” said the EU Ambassador.