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Part I Overview and main indicators

  1. Country brief
  2. General geographic and economic indicators
  3. FAO Fisheries statistics

Part II Narrative (2018)

  1. Production sector
    • Marine sub-sector
      • Catch profile
      • Landing sites
      • Fishing practices/systems
      • Main resources
      • Management applied to main fisheries
    • Inland sub-sector
    • Aquaculture sub-sector - NASO
    • Recreational sub-sector
  2. Post-harvest sector
    • Fish utilization
    • Fish markets
  3. Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sector
    • Role of fisheries in the national economy
    • Trade
    • Food security
    • Employment
    • Rural development
  4. Trends, issues and development
    • Constraints and opportunities
    • Government and non-government sector policies and development strategies
    • Research, education and training
      • Research
      • Education and training
    • Foreign aid
  5. Institutional framework
  6. Legal framework
  7. Annexes

Additional information

  1. FAO Thematic data bases
  2. Publications
  3. Meetings & News archive

Part I Overview and main indicators

Part I of the Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile is compiled using the most up-to-date information available from the FAO Country briefs and Statistics programmes at the time of publication. The Country Brief and the FAO Fisheries Statistics provided in Part I may, however, have been prepared at different times, which would explain any inconsistencies.

Country briefPrepared: June, 2019

Guyana encompasses a geographic area of 215 000 km² with a population of approximately 777 900 people (2017). The fishery sector is of critical importance to the economy and to social well-being of the country. It is estimated that the primary sector of fisheries contributed to 1.9 percent of the total GDP in 2012.

After a peak in 2012, when capture production reached 53 800 tonnes, the following years showed a declining trend interrupted in 2016 thanks to good catches of shrimps that are the major fishery resource. In 2017, reported capture production was about 43 000 tonnes, mostly marine.

In 2017, exports of fish and fishery products were valued at USD 111.2 million (with a significant share of crustaceans), while imports were worth USD 2.9 million. Fish is the major source of animal protein in Guyana. It is estimated that per capita annual consumption of fish was 29.5 kg in 2013 (down from 40 kg in 2003).

In 2017 the fishery sector employed an estimated 8386 people, of which 7 141 in marine coastal fishing, 1 125 in inland water fishing and 120 in aquaculture. Many more people benefited indirectly from fishing-related occupations, such as boat building, supply and repair. In Guyana, capture fisheries is undertaken by artisanal fishers and by an industrial fishing fleet composed of trawlers and hand-liners, including some foreign flagged, licensed vessels. Most of Guyana’s fishing effort occurs in the relatively shallow waters of the continental shelf. In 2017 the estimated fleet was composed by an estimated 1 498 vessels ranging in size from 6 to 24 m, of which the great majority (83 percent) were gill netters. Aquaculture has been practiced for many years using mostly low-input culture method in brackishwater and freshwater pond employing cachama, tilapia, and whiteleg shrimp as the major target species.Aquaculture production was almost 700 tonnes in 2017, consisting of the three said major species plus a few native species.
General geographic and economic indicators

Table 1 - General Geographic and Economic Data - Guyana

Shelf area

50,506 km2

Sea Around Us Project: http://www.seaaroundus.org/
Length of continental coastline 459.0 World by Map: http://world.bymap.org/
Fisheries GDP (year) N/A N/A
*Value converted by FAO as per UN currency exchange rate

Key statistics

Country area214 970km2FAOSTAT. Official data, 2013
Land area196 850km2FAOSTAT. Expert sources from FAO (including other divisions), 2013
Inland water area18 120km2Computed. Calculated, 2013
Population - Est. & Proj.0.769millionsFAOSTAT. Official data, 2018
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) area135 625km2VLIZ

Source: FAO Country Profile

FAO Fisheries statisticsTable 2 in this section is based on statistics prepared by the FAO Fishery Information, Data and Statistics Unit and disseminated in 2019. The charts are based on the same source but these are automatically updated every year with the most recent statistics.

Table 2 — FAO fisheries statistics - Guyana

      1980 1990 2000 2010 2015 2016 2017
EMPLOYMENT (thousands) 6.50 4.03 6.57 8.45 7.76 7.76 8.39
  Aquaculture 0.10 0.15 0.10 0.10 0.12
  Capture 6.50 4.03 6.47 8.30 7.66 7.66 8.27
    Inland 0.20 1.80 1.13 1.13 1.13
    Marine 6.50 4.03 6.27 6.50 6.54 6.54 7.14
FLEET(thousands boats) 1.45 1.45 1.33 1.50 1.49
Source: FAO Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics
1) Due to roundings total may not sum up

Please Note:Fishery statistical data here presented exclude the production for marine mammals, crocodiles, corals, sponges, pearls, mother-of-pearl and aquatic plants.


Updated 2018Part II Narrative

Part II of the Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile provides supplementary information that is based on national and other sources and that is valid at the time of compilation (see update year above). References to these sources are provided as far as possible.

Production sectorGuyana, with a land area of 215 000 km2, lies on the north coast of the South American subcontinent. Its coastline is 432 km long, and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) encompasses 138 240 km2. The average width of the continental shelf is 112.6 km, being wider in the east and narrower in the northwest, giving a shelf area of 48 665 km2.

Marine sub-sectorCatch profileGuyana’s marine fishing activities are directed at exploiting its shrimp resources using shrimp trawlers, and its groundfish resources using wooden vessels and a variety of gear by artisanal fishermen. There is limited exploitation of pelagic resources over the continental shelf and towards the continental slope.

Landing sitesThe industrial fishery is based in the Demerara River close to Georgetown, the main port, where there are a number of trawlers, seven major fish and shrimp processing plants, many wharves and dry dock facilities. Ice and freezing facilities servicing this fishery are owned and operated by participants within and outside the fishery sector.

Fishing practices/systemsThe main marine practices include industrial trawl fishery, deep slope fishery (semi-industrial red snapper fishery); and small-scale artisanal fishery. Prawn trawlers have refrigerated holds, while seabob trawlers use ice to preserve their catch. Both types of fishing take on board finfish as by-catch. Guyana was on the forefront of landing of by catch, and at present shrimp trawlers have to land 15 tonnes per year. Seabob fisheries land their by-catch in order to get more income.

Main resourcesShrimp was traditionally the main resource exploited by Guyana, however, overexploitation led to a steep reduction of production. Shrimp have been replaced by seabob (Xiphopenaeus kroyeri) in recent years. Seabob production accounts for about half of the Guyanese fisheries production, while the other half are marine fish not specified, which include some red snappers and other valuable demersal resources. The Guyanese seabob fishery is trying to get the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification, similar to the one already granted for the Suriname seabob fisheries.

Management applied to main fisheriesManagement applied to the marine fisheries consists of licencing and the prohibition to fish in Marine Protected Areas. In addition, the shrimp trawlers must have Turtle Excluding Devises (TED) installed in order to be able to export to the US market.

Guyana currently has five protected areas. Kaieteur National Park, established in 1929, and Shell Beach Protected Area and Kanuku Mountain Protected Area, both established in 2011, are managed by the Protected Areas Commission (PAC). Iwokrama Rainforest Reserve is managed by an international Board of Trustees. Collectively these four, which form part of Guyana’s National Protected Areas System (GPAS), cover 5.4 percent of Guyana’s land area. Kanashen Conservation Area is owned and managed by the Wai Wai community, which brings the total area under protection to 8.7 percent.

Management objectivesThe management objective is the sustainable development of the fisheries.

Inland sub-sectorFreshwater fishing is conducted in rivers, creeks, lakes and reservoirs, canals, and in savannah areas where the seasonal increase in rainfall gives rise to large expanses of seasonally flooded lands. The activity tends to be influenced by the down period in agriculture and the availability of other economic activities. For example, in the estate areas, the intensity of fishing varies with the harvesting of sugar cane and rice. The activity is carried out with small, flat-bottomed, dory-type vessels using cast nets, seine or handlines. The limited data available indicate that most inland fishing is carried out by Amerindians. Other groups exploit the freshwater resource near the coast and in the vicinity of logging and mining communities situated in the interior of the country. At present, the effort is largely directed at subsistence fishing, although a few fishermen participate in small scale commercial fisheries. The only commercial exploitation in this sector is for ornamental fishes. Main species caught are peacock bass (Chicla oscellaris), catfish (Pseudoplatystom sp.), and cachama/redbellied pacu (Colossoma macropomum). The total production is estimated at 700 tonnes per year. There are no management measures in place for inland fisheries.

Aquaculture sub-sectorAquaculture in Guyana is a relatively new concept; however, people on the Corentyne Coast have practiced a form of fisheries enhancement that is similar to aquaculture for over 100 years. Several attempts have been made over the years to develop freshwater and brackishwater aquaculture especially since local consumer demand for freshwater fish is high.

The farmed species using semi-intensive pond rearing practices are the Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus), Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), Jamaican red tilapia, giant river prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii), armoured catfish or atipa (Hoplosternum littorale) and the salmon shrimp (Mesopenaeus tropicalis). In recent years, cachama/redbellied pacu (Colossoma macropomum) farming has developed, and is now representing about half of the aquaculture production, which is about 350 tonnes per year.

Recreational sub-sectorSport fishing in Guyana mainly concentrates on river fisheries, for the Arapaima (Arapaima gigas), which attracts many fly sport fishers every year. The marine recreational fisheries is relatively underdeveloped.

Post-harvest sectorFish utilizationThe seabob is frozen and exported. Some of the commercially interesting finfish such as groupers and snappers are also frozen. All the other products landed by the inshore artisanal fishery are sold fresh. The remainder which cannot be sold on the day, is processed into dried or smoked products by cottage industries.

Fish marketsThe shrimp fisheries are mainly export oriented, while the finfish fisheries target the domestic market.

Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sectorRole of fisheries in the national economyGuyana’s fisheries sector contributes between US$ 70-80 million annually to the economy, thus the contribution of the fisheries and aquaculture sector to the national economy is small, estimated at about 1.2 percent of the Gross Domestic Production (GDP) in 2012. This is a substantial decline from the 2.8 percent reported 15 years ago, mainly due to the collapse of the Penaeus shrimp fisheries.

TradeThe United States of America is the main market for fishery products from Guyana. In 2018, there was a problem with catfish quality inspection, which led to a decline in exports of this species to the US market. Export earnings have been increasing slowly over the years, over US$ 111 million.

Food securityFish is an important food item in the country. It is well-liked by consumers, however, declines in production in recent years have led to a reduction in apparent consumption, which is now estimated at 30 kg per person per year, about half of what was reported 20 years ago.

EmploymentThe fishing industry employs some 8 400 people in harvesting and 5 000 in processing and marketing, so more than 10 000 livelihoods depend directly on fishery, and many more benefit indirectly from fishing-related occupations such as boat building, gear supply and repair. In addition, significant numbers work in processing, distributing and selling fish and fish products in domestic markets. A high proportion of workers in processing, distribution and retail are women, and they are active in harvesting as well.

Rural developmentFisheries play an important role in local rural development. However, the declining resources will not allow further massive development actions.

Trends, issues and developmentConstraints and opportunitiesThe decline in traditional resources is a strong constraint for fisheries development. Fisheries management has to be up scaled in order to protect the valuable shrimp and seabob resources.

The potential certification under the MSC is an opportunity for the seabob sector to find new markets, and to better control the fishing effort.

Government and non-government sector policies and development strategiesThe government policy is very limited, looking at a closed number of licences, without tackling the main issues of management. The overall strategy of Government is to increase landings and production by developing the fisheries of underexploited stocks such as the deep slope and pelagic species, and expanding aquaculture. Simultaneously, the Government is attempting to improve management of the fisheries to achieve sustainable levels of production, productivity and real incomes.

Research, education and trainingResearchIn the past, the University of Guyana carried out research projects on fisheries. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is carrying out studies on shark landings.

Education and trainingNo education programme for fishers exists.

Foreign aidThe United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/Global Environment Fund (GEF) Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystems (CLME+) project is implementing various national projects in Guyana.

Institutional frameworkThe Fisheries Department under the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for managing, regulating and promoting the sustainable development of the nation’s fishery resources for the benefit of the participants in the sector and the national economy. The Fisheries sector is made up of three primary components: Marine Fishery, Aquaculture and Inland Fishery.

In November 1993, Guyana became Party to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The country is member of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the Latin American Organization for Fisheries development (OLDEPESCA), and the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC).

Legal frameworkThe Fisheries Act (Cap 71:08) of 2002 regulates fishing within internal and marine waters (inclusive the EEZ) of Guyana by both domestic and foreign fishing vessels. The Act also concerns fishing on the high seas by Guyana vessels, marine reserves, processing of fish and international trade in fish products. Fisheries shall be managed by the Minister and the Chief Fisheries Officer appointed under this Act. The Chief Fisheries Officer shall prepare and review plans for the management of fisheries. The Act sets out the content of such plans. The Minister may appoint a Fishery Advisory Committee. Local and foreign vessels intended to be used for fishing in waters of Guyana shall be registered with the Chief Fisheries Officer. The Chief Fisheries Officer shall also issue local and foreign fishing licences, and resolve fisheries disputes referred to him or her. The Minister may enter into access or other fisheries agreements. The Act defines powers of fisheries officers to inspect vessels before and after registration. The Minister may declare marine reserves for purposes of, among other things, protection of fauna, flora and habitats. Fishing and other specified activities in reserves are prohibited without permission. The Minister may also declare fishery priority areas. The Act furthermore, among other things: prohibits certain fishing methods; provides for the implementation of the Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas and the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks; provides for the licensing of fish processing establishments and the import and export of fish; provides with respect to actions against foreign fishing vessels that are suspected to have undermined international fisheries rules (illegal fishing).


CLME Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystems
COPESCAALC Commission for Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture of Latin America and the Caribbean
CRFM Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism
EEZ Exclusive economic zone
GEF Global Environment Fund
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GPAS Guyana’s National Protected Areas System
ICCAT International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna
IWC International Whaling Commission
PAC Protected Areas Commission
OLDEPESCA Latin American Organization for Fisheries development
MSC Marine Stewardship Council
TEDs Turtle Excluder Devices
UNCLOS United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
US United States
WECAFC Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission
WWF World Wildlife Fund

Additional information

Meetings & News archive


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