Fisherfolk commended for their sacrifices at Fisherfolk Day 2023 observances

Today scores of fisherfolk from across the country gathered at the Lusignan Community Centre Ground to celebrate National Fisherfolk Day 2023.

This year, fisherfolk day was observed under the theme “One Ocean, One Planet, One Plate: Improving Aquatic Food Standards and Ocean Health”.

Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha hands over a trophy to Chairman of the GNFO, Pamashwar Jainarine

While offering remarks at an exercise hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture’s Fisheries Department, Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha thanked Guyana’s fisherfolk for their invaluable contribution to Guyana’s economy and the population’s nutritional intake.

While highlighting the fact that fishing remains an extremely dangerous profession, Minister Mustapha commended fisherfolk for the sacrifices they continue to make for their families and the country, by braving the oceans to earn a living.

Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha

“This annual event is an acknowledgment of the bravery, hard work, and sacrifices made by our fisherfolks who provide nutritious food and major protein sources for Guyanese, contributing to securing livelihoods. Fisherfolks provide an essential service that must be recognized, and appreciation must be shown. Fishing remains an extremely dangerous profession, and so we must commend and applaud our fishers for the sacrifices they make for their families and the country, by braving the oceans to earn a living,” he noted.

The minister also said that sustainable fishing is the foundation of maintaining healthy oceans which contributes to the quality of aquatic food.

FAO Country Rep. Dr. Gillian SMith

“Our growing population requires high-quality foods to promote healthy living, to boost immune systems, and to ward off sickness. Sustainable fishing is the foundation of maintaining the health of our oceans, which is important for quality aquatic foods to reach every plate.  The interconnectivity of our ocean demonstrates that though there are diverse ecologies, they are all brought together as one for overall health and wellbeing of the species and people that utilize it,” he added.

Minister Mustapha also spoke about the collaborative efforts between the ministry and organisations like the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to provide technical guidance to support a sustainable fisheries sector. Furthermore, he said that the government has executed a number of infrastructural at the various landing sites to assist fisherfolk with their daily operations.

Fisherfolk gathered at the event

“To maintain the ocean’s health, the Fisheries Department has engaged its trusted partners like the FAO and WWF to provide the technical guidance to support a sustainable fisheries sector. With the FAO, we have projects addressing the sustainability of resources through the FISH4ACP Project, the distribution of safety equipment, and the generation of a Fisheries Department Information System. The WWF in collaboration with the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) has provided the Government of Guyana with a National Plan of Action for Illegal, Unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. In addition, to improve the social conditions at landing sites, over $300 million was spent to construct washroom facilities, sheds, storerooms, ramps, installation of solar lights, rehabilitation of wharves, and construction of an office building at #79 for the Upper Corentyne Fishermen Cooperative,” he stated.

A section of the gathering

Fisheries constitute 3% of Guyana’s agriculture GDP and approximately G$11.95 billion to Guyana’s exports, which represents about 6% of Guyana’s total exports. Additionally, about 15,000 persons are directly and indirectly employed by the fisheries industry.

In 2022, Guyana produced more than 33,500 metric tonnes of seafood of which Guyanese are said to consume approximately 35 kg or 74 lbs. of seafood per person annually which is more than twice the world’s average.