A Seabob Management Plan and Code of Conduct were completed and will be submitted to Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) in the third quarter of 2016 for external review. This has been outlined in the Ministry of Finance’s 2016, Mid-year report.
The report states that the Seabob Working Group (SWG) has been ensuring that all is in place for the assessment to begin for the Marine Stewardship Certification (MSC). The Marine Stewardship Council is an international non-profit organisation established to address the problem of unsustainable fishing and safeguard seafood supplies for the future.
Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder first announced to stakeholders in the sector that the Fisheries Department has joined with the Seabob Industry to apply for the MSC Certification, during the observance of Fisherfolk Day 2015, at Charity, Region Two. The department has since been working consistently to gain this status.
Further, at the fourteenth Meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, earlier this year, Minister Holder told the gathering that Guyana is committed to the sustainable management and advancement of the fisheries sector, and is committed to working with its partners to ensure that, “we fish responsibly and practice sustainable fishing practices. Some of our initiatives include: The introduction of a harvest control rule where trawlers are allowed to fish for only a certain amount of days annually.”
The Minister also explained that the Ministry has moved to install “By catch reduction devices and Turtle Exclusion Devices on all trawlers, the use of Vessel Monitoring Systems on the trawling fleet so that they can be monitored on a 24- hour basis and the formation of a Seabob Working Group, which comprises members of the Fisheries Department and stakeholders from the Trawler Association. This group is working together to attain the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for the Seabob industry.”
Additionally, the fisheries industry will be increasing monitoring, control and surveillance of artisanal vessels to ensure that they are in compliance with the rules and regulations as indicated in the Fisheries Act of 2002. This is expected to reduce accidents and robbery at sea. Coast Guard ranks will also be patrolling in the Exclusive Economic Zone.
Fishing is very important to the local economy. It generates US$75M in foreign exchange annually. The local industry employs approximately 15000 people, 5000 of whom work on the actual ships and another 10,000 indirectly involved in areas such as boat-building and boat maintenance activities. The fishery sector is a significant net contributor to the Government’s revenue.
The Mid-Year report has also highlighted that production in the local fisheries sector is on the increase, and has seen a growth of 2.1 percent for the first half of 2016, when compared to the same period in 2015.