The socio-economic contribution of stakeholders in the fisheries sector was today hailed by Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud; while addressing stakeholders at a Fisherfolks Day appreciation ceremony at Onverwagt Aqua Ranch, Region Five.
This year international Fisherfolks Day is celebrated under the theme, ‘Towards a sustainable Fishing Industry’.
Minister Persaud while highlighting some of the contributions made by the industry in national development, said those achievements have tremendous opportunities but also come with a number of threats and challenges including piracy, poaching, over fishing and lack of preparation for the future.
He said that the sector accounts for 15,000 jobs, with hundreds of those employees living in rural communities, where some villages depend mainly on fishing for their main and only source of livelihood.
As a result of this, he said that Government has been working with all relevant stakeholders in the industry to ensure its viability and sustainability in the future.
Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud with fish in hand, Mission Director United States Agency for International Development Carol Horning at Trafalgar/Unions Women's Group Aquaculture Farm, Region 5.
“We are keeping a very close eye on those threats as well as the opportunities and the investments being made by the private sector and other partners including the United States, United Kingdom and other financial institutions like the IDB to ensure that we are able to position ourselves in capturing those opportunities in the future,” Minister Persaud said.
Government, he said continues to work closely with all stakeholders to ensure compliance within the sector, and as a result, was able to ensure that the sector does not “face any dwindle in marine sources in terms of fishery”.
Minister Persaud also added that his Ministry through the Fisheries department has been working and meeting with the Guyana Association of Trawler Owners and Seafood Processors and a number of small fisherfolks at the co-operatives level.
“Because of the constant interactions with stakeholders within the sector, we have been able to reduce the fleet of trawlers by 20 percent over two years and voluntary closing of fishing grounds for several weeks ... so we didn’t had to take an approach that if you don’t agree we will have to take strict enforcement, it was done voluntarily,” Minister Persaud informed.
“We have been able to win the support from all in the sector and that puts us in a very good position in dealing with the threats and also preparing ourselves for long - term vision for the fisheries sector,” Minister Persaud informed.
A section of the gathering at Fisherfolks Day at Onverwagt Aqua Ranch, Region 5.
He added that the steps taken to sustain the viability of the sector can be overridden by the effects of climate change and other threats such as poaching in the deep water territories.
With the anticipated world population growth to over nine billion by 2050 and the need for more food production, the sector will be in high demand, he said.
In preparation for the demand, he said the global output from the sector has outstretched the availability of marine resources.
“In Guyana that global threat becomes an opportunity for us to tap into the markets once we are able to reserve our industry and at the same time being able to develop our aquaculture industry at a large scale,” Minister Persaud told fisherfolks.
He said that PPP/C Government in its Agriculture Diversification Plan and Low Carbon Development Strategy has identified aquaculture as one of the new growth areas which will be given tremendous support.
“We have taken that bold step to support and work closely with our partners, and the contributions that we received from the US and UK governments have been tremendous and invaluable and have certainly enabled us as a country to expand the industry in a short period,” Minister Persaud said.
Cognisant of the need for more support, he said Government will be allocating $120M for the commencement of a national financial support programme for the aquaculture sector.
Mission Director, United States Agency for International Development, Carol Horning and British High Commissioner to Guyana, Simon Bond, who were also part of the ceremony, expressed optimism about the local aquaculture industry.
Bond said that Guyana’s aquaculture has great potential for local and international markets, while Horning said co-operation between the United States and Guyana is very consistent.
Prior to the ceremony, Minister Persaud visited several aquaculture farms in Region 5.