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A plan for more productive and sustainable seabob fishery in Guyana

Key partners agree on responsible management, better infrastructure and increased product value for Guyana’s main seafood export product

24 November 2021, Georgetown – Key partners of the seabob sector in Guyana agreed on a roadmap for a more productive and sustainable utilization of Atlantic seabob, Guyana’s main seafood export product. Spearheaded by the global value chain initiative FISH4ACP, development will focus on stronger artisanal fishing and reduced bycatch, better infrastructure and product value. 

 “Atlantic seabob is key to our economy. It provides a lot of jobs and offers healthy food for many people," said Denzil Roberts, Chief Fisheries Officer of the Ministry of Agriculture at a meeting in Georgetown, where development plans for the seabob fishery were discussed by key partners. He added: “To enhance the productivity and competitiveness of the sector, it is crucial to tackle major challenges, including the artisanal side of the fishery and environmental impacts.” 

With an annual harvest of 20 000 tonnes valued at an estimated USD 50 million, Guyana is the world’s largest producer of Atlantic seabob shrimp. A few industrial processors export frozen peeled shrimp to markets in North America and Europe, while artisanal fishers supply the local market with the remaining 5% of catches. Declining catches have raised concerns over climate impact due to increasing sargassum seaweed in Guyana’s waters, although experts say other factors may be at play as well.

In a bid to improve the sector’s productivity and reduce its ecological footprint, a broad coalition of national and regional partners has joined hands with FISH4ACP, a global initiative of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) to make fisheries and aquaculture value chains more productive and sustainable. 

Together, these partners have undertaken a value chain analysis of Guyana’s seabob fishery to set the agenda for future development. In its wake, key representatives - artisanal and industrial fishers, processors, market vendors, and other industry stakeholders – embraced a vision for Guyana to maximize the benefits of a sustainable, resilient, well managed and inclusive seabob shrimp fishery.  

Now, 40 representatives reconvened to discuss plans developed by FISH4ACP to realize this vision. At the meeting today, they agreed that for a healthy future of Guyana’s seabob sector the emphasis should be on strengthening artisanal fisheries and supporting industrial actors in reducing bycatch, on improving infrastructure and increasing product value. 

“Realizing the vision of the fishery that want and achieve sustainable management of Guyana’s seabob stocks will require the collaboration of all stakeholders,” said Gillian Smith, FAO Representative in Guyana. She added: “We want to bring the whole value chain together in this collective effort, making sure each and every one can play their role as stewards of Guyana’s seabob fishery.” 

Gillian Smith explained that FISH4ACP will support artisanal fishers’ cooperatives by building their capacities in areas such as governance, marketing and data management. It will also contribute to improving government capacities in data collection on catch volumes and composition, a cornerstone of responsible stock management.  

Moreover, FISH4ACP will be backing the rehabilitation and development of infrastructure, including wharfs, landing sites, storage space and market facilities and be involved in efforts to unleash the market potential of sustainable shrimp  

“The economic, social and environmental sustainability of Guyana’s seabob value chain hinges on a comprehensive approach,” said Fernando Ponz Cantó, Ambassador of the European Union, which is funding FISH4ACP together with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). He concluded: “Action is essential to preserve multiple species and resources, including seabob, which would otherwise be at risk of overfishing, as well as to maximize the benefits for livelihoods, food security, and the economic development of Guyana.”