Amendments to fisheries, aquaculture legislation to advance food security agenda – Min Mustapha

The Ministry of Agriculture- Fisheries Department in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Sustainable Wildlife Management (SWM) Programme is hosting a two-day Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture Support Project validation exercise for the Proposed Regulatory Changes to the Fisheries Act (2002) and the Aquaculture Framework Bill.

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha on Tuesday said the workshop, being held at the Herdmanston Lodge, Georgetown, is significant and will help to advance the government’s food security agenda.

“We will be having here for the next two days proposals to enhance our aquaculture system to meet legislation for aquaculture and inland Fisheries…When you look at our legislation now, it only caters for marine fishing or marine fisheries. And I think it’s very important because when you look at our country today, we are seeing the rapid transformation that is taking place in our agriculture sector”, he noted.

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha

Minister Mustapha said the government is working to modernise the fisheries sector bringing it in line with acceptable standards and best practices internationally.

“So, we are trying to expand, diversify, and modernise it to make it more resilient and competitive,” the minister said while addressing the participants of the workshop.

The initiative aims to propose changes based on a review that has been conducted highlighting the need for an aquaculture framework to be developed.

Minister Mustapha stated that the proposed amendments emanating from the workshop will form part of the work of the Attorney General’s Chambers. The Cabinet has already set up a sub-committee to look at various aspects of changing the legislation.

The proposed amendments are geared towards creating a robust and comprehensive legal framework for sustainable development. The draft documents are the result of previous stakeholders’ engagements, which covered Regions One to Six and Nine, with technical assistance from the FAO and SWM.

While inland fisheries may not contribute as much to the economy as marine fisheries, their regulation is critical to prevent overfishing, illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing, and the protection of species such as the Arapaima, sport fishes, and other food fish species.

SWM Inland fisheries and Aquaculture Support Programme validation exercise hosted at the Herdmanston Lodge

Also, the proposed changes will primarily be achieved through a co-management strategy.

It is essential that the Fisheries Department and SWM develop a draft National Co-management plan and regulations to support community participation through the development of co-management committees, co-management areas, and community fishing ranges.

“This will be the first co-management plan and regulation developed for the fisheries sector, which will be implemented in the North Rupununi, Region Nine. To cushion the national and global impact of overfishing wild cod fisheries, Guyana has moved towards the promotion of aquaculture”, the minister noted.

The government and stakeholders, he said, are committed to the promotion of aquaculture now, given the potential of the sector.

“Guyana’s aquaculture industry development is now a national policy priority. It has been described by His Excellency Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali as a potential economic powerhouse,” Minister Mustapha added.

The goal is to ensure that all farmers and small fishers have access to the essential opportunities that are unfolding in the sector. This is vital to the ambitious development agenda that the PPP/C Administration has set for Guyana.

The SWM programme is an international initiative aimed at improving wildlife conservation and food security. The programme has been implemented by the Guyana Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission and SEAFORE.