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Opportunities for more productive and sustainable seabob shrimp fisheries on the horizon in Guyana

FISH4ACP value chain assessment provides recommendations on how to make the Atlantic seabob fishery in Guyana more sustainable

18 August 2021  Representatives from the private and public sectors, such as artisanal fishers and industrial processors, service providers, conservation NGOs and Government officials, came together in an online validation workshop to provide feedback on Guyana’s Atlantic seabob value chain analysis, and identify ways to make this important shrimp fishery more sustainable. 

Guyana is the world’s largest producer of Atlantic seabob with an annual harvest of 20 000 tonnes valued at an estimated USD 50 million, with the large majority of the catch targeting export markets. At present, most of the seabob is exported and only about 5% is destined to local consumption, although this demand has been gradually increasing in recent years. 

“Guyana's participation in the FISH4ACP Project is directly aimed at ensuing development along the entire value chain, with the intention of enhancing the productivity and competitiveness of our Atlantic seabob fishery," stated Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha, Minister of Agriculture in Guyana, and underlined that the work will be done with full support from the Ministry of Agriculture in general, and the Fisheries Department in specific.

“This value chain analysis is key to laying out a vision on how to make this value chain more productive and competitive, while making full use of the opportunities available for sustainable and effective fisheries management”, said Dr Gillian Smith, FAO Representative in Guyana.

The main findings of the analysis illustrate the distinct presence of both industrial and artisanal seabob fishing operations, and that the United States continues to be the largest export market for Guyana’s seabob, accounting for over 65% of seabob exports.  However, it also shows that the exports have declined substantially since 2017 due to factors such as declining catch, the high presence of sargassum seaweeds, potential disruption linked to oil and gas exploration, increased market competition, and restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In terms of employment, the industrial segment remains the largest employer within the seabob fisheries. In total, there are over 1000 full-time jobs in the seabob value chain according to the analysis. Respect for labour right and bargaining power, however, have been raised as an issue affecting the social sustainability of the value chain. It is worth mentioning that many jobs, especially in the artisanal channel, are seasonal in line with the availability of seabob. Among the artisanal fisheries, businesses are mostly family owned and financed, and there is almost no formal collaboration.

Ambassador Fernando Ponz Cantó, EU Ambassador to Guyana, acknowledged the importance of this initiative to Guyana. “The inclusive nature of this important project aligns very well with the EU’s priorities which are to support livelihoods and equality for everyone. This is especially important in a value chain where 40 % of women are involved”, the Ambassador said.   

At the workshop, which was organized by FAO in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture in Guyana, participants reviewed the results, identified challenges and proposed recommendations on how to make the fishery resilient and inclusive while delivering quality products to diversified and reliable markets. The artisanal fishers expressed that they would like to see their fishery managed in a sustainable manner, and be organized as the industrial fishery.

The value chain analysis was conducted by FISH4ACP in collaboration with regional partners, based on a data collection process which entailed trips to landing sites, fish markets and vendors, as well as interviews with experts and key stakeholders from various sectors. “With the first, analytical phase of the project completed, we now have a roadmap for the implementation of future activities”, said Dawn Maison, FISH4ACP Project Officer in Guyana. “FISH4ACP will collaborate with the Ministry of Agriculture and partners in Guyana to overcome current challenges and create sustainable economic, social and environmental value for future generations”, Maison concluded.

FISH4ACP is an initiative of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) aimed at making fisheries and aquaculture value chains in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific more sustainable. FISH4ACP is implemented by FAO and partners with funding from the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).