Members of the Verification Unit, United States Department (US) today paid a Courtesy Call to Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder to offer an update on the Turtle Excluder Device (TED) program, of which Guyana is a signatory.
The United States, under Sections 609 of the Public Law 101-162, prohibits the importation of wild-caught shrimp and products of shrimp harvested in ways that may adversely affect sea turtles unless the Department of State certifies to Congress that the Government of the harvesting country has adopted a regulatory program.
Environmental Officer, US State Department, Joseph Fette congratulated the Ministry on maintaining a high compliance rate which currently stands at 54 percent, with an expected 84 percent by January 2017.
“We are very pleased with the work of the Fisheries Department in ensuring regulation and compliance by all Trawlers. It is a major improvement over last year. We are urging the Department to continue to be vigilant,” Fette said.
The US Department makes certifications annually and bases them in part on the results of overseas verification visits by a team composed of State Department and National Marine Fisheries Service representatives.
Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder committed to working with the US State Department in ensuring all the key players within the industry comply with the TED regulations.
“We have come a far way indeed, and with the new policy initiatives being implemented by the Fisheries Department, Guyana’s efforts at modernizing its fisheries sector will be given the necessary impetus in realizing it full potential,” the Minister said.
Guyana enforces the use TED through the Turtle Excluder Device Regulations which stipulates that all trawler type vessels that target seabob shrimp and prawns are required to have their nets fitted with the appropriate TED when conducting fishing activities in Guyana.
The Fisheries Department within the Ministry of Agriculture employs TED inspectors who conduct inspections of all trawler vessels before and when they return from fishing expeditions. The seabob fishery fleet comprises of eighty seven licensed vessels, of which, eighty one are operational while the prawn fishery fleet comprise of twenty nine vessels of which more than twenty are operational.
The only weakness of the enforcement of the TED Regulation is the inability of the Fisheries Department to conduct inspections of vessels while at sea. The Department’s Chief Fisheries Officer, Mr. Denzil Roberts, is currently working with the Guyana Defence Force Coast Guard and the Guyana Police Force Marine Branch to conduct such enforcement activities in the future.
Present at the meeting were Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder, Chief Fisheries Officer, Fisheries Department, Mr. Denzil Roberts, Head of Legal and Inspectorate Unit, Fisheries Department, Mr. Gary Baird, Economic Associate, Economic and Political Affairs Section, United States Embassy, Ms. Amy Knaup, Environmental Officer, US State Department, Mr. Joseph Fette and Fisheries Gear Specialist, U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce, USA, Mr. Jack Forester.