US commits to reviewing ban on catfish from Guyana

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L-R: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Guyana President Dr Irfaan Ali at State House [Office of the President Photo]
Following high-level discussions with Guyana’s President Dr Irfaan Ali, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has committed his Government to reviewing the ban on catfish which was imposed early 2017 under the Granger-led administration.

During a joint press conference Friday, President Ali told reporters that “I raised with Secretary Pompeo, the need to revisit the current export restriction on wild-caught catfish – a product which is a great demand in the Guyanese diaspora.”

“This market is very important not only for export earning but also for the sustenance of the livelihood of the fishing community,” President Ali explained.

In response, the US Secretary of State highlighted that “I used to catch catfish when I was a young man.”

Pompeo went on to assure that: “We’re getting the information that is needed, we’ll work with you. We’ll put it through the US regulatory process and the WTO [World Trade Organisation] review process and I’m confident that we can get a good outcome.”

The ban by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) was instituted against Guyana in 2017. According to the regulations, Guyana must be able to catch catfish and transport it to a processing plant while it is alive. This is in contradiction to what is being practised here, whereby the fish is caught, disemboweled and the carcass is iced until it reaches the shore.

Over two years had elapsed under the coalition administration and the situation remained unfixed.

In fact, the former coalition administration knew of the updated requirements since November 2015 but did nothing to ensure there was compliance.