Corentyne fishermen engage Agri. Minister on zoning with trawler operators

Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha during a recent outreach to several villages along the Corentyne Coast, met with a group of fishermen who appealed for improved zoning in Guyana’s waters.

During the meeting at Hogs Town, in Fyrish, the fishermen, who usually fish in a dedicated area in the Atlantic Ocean, told Minister Mustapha that there has been a recent migration of the fish stock that requires them to venture beyond their dedicated zone.

Minister Zulfikar Mustapha while addressing those in attendance

Mr. Sankar Samaroo, one of the affected fishermen, told the Minister that climate change had adversely impacted the catch level and population within their current fishing zone.

“Due to the climate change, the fish not coming into the amount of water you guys give us to fish in. We gotta go over by the trawlers and we ah get cuss. They saying that that is not our zone. We are asking the Minister if there can be a review of this so that there can be a specific time for the trawlers to fish and the fishermen to fish. We’ve met with them and asked for us to be allowed to fish from 6 o’clock in the morning to 2 o’clock in the afternoon and they could fish during the rest of the day and the night because they are fishing primarily for shrimps. The fishes feed on the shrimp so where ever the shrimps go the fishes following,” Mr. Samaroo said.

Sankar Samaroo

In response, Minister Mustapha committed to raising these concerns with the recently installed bodies mandated to overlook the industry and give recommendations to Government.

“Last week I installed two bodies that are responsible for dealing with these matters; the Fisheries Advisory Committee and the Guyana Fisheries Limited Board (GFLB). Members of the trawlers association have also raised issues pertaining to the low level of catches and the Ministry, through the Fisheries Department, will launch an investigation into the matter soon. In relation to your matter, I will raise it with the heads of both bodies so that they can meet with all parties involved, launch an investigation and make recommendations for a way forward to the Fisheries Department,” Minister Mustapha said.

Other fishermen also appealed for assistance with the irrigation channel used when discharging their catch and for works to be carried out on the access dam used to transport their engines.

 “When the tide low, boat cannot come in. We have to wait for the tide to rise then boats can come in. We are coming in a line so by the time the first boat finish discharging the catch, the catch from the last boat spoil. The channel is very, very narrow. Another issue, whenever the channel where the Albion Estate blow water, the dam is breaking so the channel is being affected. We are asking if… they recently bring a long-boom hymac, but it cannot reach to the middle, so, we’re asking if they can get a pontoon with the hymac and get that thing resolved. The revetment on the eastern half of the channel from where the concrete irrigation is which is like about 500 feet, so that the dam cannot break away. It’s tough on us to take out our engines when the tide is low and the catch. We cannot work during low tide. We are asking for something to be done so that we could get better access,” Mr. Ramsarran said.

Veeram Ramsarran

Minister Mustapha committed to having works executed to bring some level of assistance to the fishermen.

“I’ve asked the CEO of the NDIA, and within two weeks we’ll send the pontoon with the excavator to clear the entire enlarged channel so that you can have some level of relief,” Minister Mustapha said.

The Minister also told the fishermen that soon there will be a National Aquaculture Conference, during which, His Excellency, President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali will launch the Government’s aquaculture master plan.

Recently, stakeholders in the fishing industry across the country have raised concerns over low level catches in both fish and seabob species in Guyana’s waters.

During a recent meeting with the newly installed Fisheries Advisory Committee, President of the Guyana Association of Trawler Owners and Seafood Processors (GATOSP) Mr. Ruben Charles expressed concern over the current low level of catches with Minister Mustapha.

A section of the meeting

This, he said, may be linked to the current oil exploration activities offshore. He added that although no scientific research has been done in Guyana to officially link low levels of catches to oil exploration, there have been similar instances of low level catches in other nations with current oil and gas operations offshore.

Farmers also raised issues about drainage and dilapidated roads and dams. Minister Mustapha committed to having a machine deployed to the area to carry out the works. He told residents that the machine will remain in the area until the works were completed. He also committed to providing crusher run gravel to do revetment work on the dilapidated dams.