Some 30 stingrays were yesterday discovered dead along the Georgetown Seawall and the Guyana Wildlife Commission is reportedly investigating the matter.
Alex Arjoon, in a Facebook post, revealed that “on my usual afternoon run on the sea wall from Ogle to Sheriff Street I noticed a particularly putrid smell. Didn’t take me long to realize that over the wall was an absolute massacre of stingrays. I counted well over 30 excluding the potentially hundreds more that didn’t wash all the way up and are most likely still buried in the mud flats. What’s going on in our waters?”
Contacted today for a comment on the issue, environmentalist Annette Arjoon told INews that preliminary investigations have revealed that the stingrays met their demise after being trapped by large seines.
“The Guyana Wildlife Commission sent out one of their officers and said that preliminary investigation indicates that it might be from a very long Chinese seine that was set in front of that area. What happens is these types of stingrays…they are found in very large numbers in our coastal areas and when they get caught in a fishing net, like obviously what happened, when the tides go out, they start to die because the sun dries them out, and when the next tide comes in, the tide will then now wash them up against the concrete walls,” Arjoon explained.
Arjoon noted that this issue is not new. According to her, many times fishermen would use seines to catch fish but unintentionally catch other marine life. From her own observations, the situation is prevalent in the Mahaica River.
“They have people that go there on Saturdays and they put the same Chinese net all over the place to catch hassar and to catch lukanani and sometimes they don’t even go and check the nets. What happens is the lukanani mother, father, grandmother, grandchildren, everybody does get catch in the net and all of it is left to be rotten,” Arjoon posited.
She is hopeful that the government’s plan to expand the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) will start to address these issues.
“The Low Carbon Development Strategy initially was only about the forest. But what this Government is doing is, they’re going to expand it to include biodiversity, to include watersheds and to include the blue economy. The relevance of that expanded Low Carbon Development Strategy in the conflicts of what happened here with the stingrays, the stingrays are part of our biodiversity and they’re also part of the blue economy and anything to do with the blue economy is a marine space.
“So here again, the fishermen have to fish to live and protein is important to Guyanese diet but the way of us doing it in a very sensitive manner so we don’t kill out half of the other marine life that we don’t want to eat, I think we need to raise awareness about that,” she noted.
Stingrays have an important role to play in most ecosystems. Almost all rays are considered “vacuum cleaners” of the oceans due them feeding on prey living close to, on, or just underneath the bottom of the ocean. So, if the if too many stingrays are removed, unintentionally, it could affect the ecosystem.