No progress on reversal of US fish ban – Minister Holder

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Agriculture Minister Noel Holder

More than a year after the United States imposed a ban on Guyana’s fish exports, local authorities are still unable to have the embargo lifted.

Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder told Inews that the process is bureaucratic and nothing new has emerged from discussions with the authorities.

He explained that the agencies involved are the Fisheries Department of his Ministry and the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department of the Public Health Ministry.

Because there are two separate entities involved, the Minister explained that information flow is slow, and most time, bureaucratic.

Scores of fishermen were significantly affected when the ban was imposed in February last year.

This meant that they could no longer export certain species of fishes to the US, which was a large market.

The US imposed the ban after the Guyana Government failed to comply with certain food and safety regulations.

This is even though the Government knew of the standards since November 2015 but did nothing to ensure there was compliance.

Minister Holder explained if a Food Safety Authority – which would have been created under the Food Safety Bill – was established, the process towards compliance would have been faster.

The Food Safety Bill was presented to the National Assembly in 2016, with provisions for a Food Safety Authority, which would spearhead all aspects of food production including preparation and transportation for exportation.

But the Bill is yet to be debated on and passed.

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