Agriculture Minister Noel Holder, today called on fisherfolk to play their part by getting licenced, practicing sustainable fishing activities and comply with the regulations that are applied by the Fisheries Department while delivering the feature address at this year’s Fisherfolk Day which was held at the Upper Corentyne Fishermen Coop Society Ltd in #66 Village, Berbice.
This year’s proceeding was observed under the theme “Combatting IUU Fishing, Preserving our Marine Resources” and saw fisherfolk from all walks of life participating in the day’s activities.
“As we recognize the significant impact that the fisheries sector has on our economy and its importance worldwide, we have decided to designate a day which would recognize the contribution you make to Guyana’s development and bring you even as we reflect on the challenges you face and, at the end, to have a bit of socializing and interaction among ourselves.” Minister Holder stated.
Guyana recently became a signatory to a Port States Measure Agreement (PSMA) to prevent, deter and eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing. The agreement was developed and officially entered into force on June 6th, 2016. This agreement seeks to utilize robust port state measures to combat this scourge.
Minister Holder also called for the local law enforcement body to exercise the full force of the law on persons found committing acts of piracy citing recent piracy attacks which left several families in distress. “Recently we had a horrendous criminal act that has left many families without a father, husband and bread winner. More horrendous is the fact that this act was perpetuated by fishermen within this very region.” Minister Holder.
Fisherfolk are faced with many challenges like climate change and other man made challenges like robberies and smuggling. Smuggling has the potential to adversely affect the health of persons who consume fish and other seafood products and by-products that get on the market through illegal channels. Such practices have the potential to generate many problems such as the introduction of harmful pests and diseases into the environment.
Chief Fisheries Officer, Denzil Roberts in his address to the gathering echoed the call for coops to be registered adding that, it serves as a stepping stone to ensuring that the voices of all fisherman is heard.
The Fisheries Department launched the Fisherfolk Organisation last year, which has been receiving slow support from some fisherman coop. The Chief Fisheries Officer, used the occasion to remind of fishermen of the role the organization plays in ensuring a level playing field in the industry.
“We all have a role to play in bettering the lives of our fishermen and together we can achieve this….the Fisheries Department is taking a holistic approach to address some of constraints affecting the trade in Guyana and one such, is joining in the fight to eliminate illegal fishing,” he said.
Guyana has recently signed on the IUU by taking a global response to eliminating illegal fishing in Guyana. This has seen a number of measures being taken by the Fisheries Department in ensuring that illegal fishing becomes a thing of the past.
“Among the measures we have taken is ensuring that all trawlers are registered….we are now in the process of enforcement which has also see fisherman complying which has ensure the smooth flow of the process,” he said.
Meanwhile, Regional Chairman David Armagon spoke of the importance protein plays on one’s diet and the contribution the industry continues to play in contributing to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Diversification of Guyana’s agricultural commodities continues to be on the front burner of Government’s quest to transforming the sector.
“Gone are the days when we only rely on rice and sugar as our main contributing factor to GDP….we must now look towards diversification to better push our agricultural commodities and aquaculture is one such avenue,” he said.
The Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Agriculture and other sub-agencies and ministries, continues to strategically put plans and systems in place to preserve and sustain the fishing industry so that persons can continue to earn an honest livelihood in a comfortable environment.