Gov’t launches action plan to eliminate illegal, unreported fishing

Guyana on Wednesday launched a national action plan to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, strengthening its approach to fisheries monitoring, control, surveillance, and enforcement.

During the handing over ceremony at the Ministry of Agriculture’s head office, Regent Street, Georgetown, Minister Zulfikar Mustapha emphasised the crucial role of the fishing industry as a vital source of food, jobs, and trade for both Guyanese and the global population.

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha handing over the national action plan to Chief Fisheries Officer, Denzil Roberts

The minister noted that the principles, strategies, and objectives of the plan are inclusive, adaptable, and innovative, and are necessary for the sustainable development of the fisheries sector.

“We firmly believe that sustainable fishing starts with us…Guyana’s National Plan of Action ensures that there is a strategic framework involving government, industry, and international cooperation to combat IUU fishing and other forms of transnational organised crime linked to fisheries. It also includes measures to improve vessel monitoring, traceability, and stronger port controls,” Minister Mustapha emphasised.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), IUU fishing activities are responsible for the loss of 11 to 26 million tonnes of fish yearly, which is projected to have an economic worth of US$10 to $23 billion.

A section of the launch of Guyana’s national action plan against IUU fishing

To this end, the agriculture minister said there is a constant need for fish and fish products due to the massive expansion of the global population.

Chief Fisheries Officer, Denzil Roberts highlighted that the plan is another mechanism to sustainably manage the fishery resources. 

“We all know that IUU fishing is a very harmful activity globally, regionally, and on our shores here in Guyana. This is a very timely event where we will be afforded the opportunity to have a manual to assist us in our management measures,” Roberts stated.

Meanwhile, Country Manager of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Guianas, Aiesha Williams said that IUU fishing is a global challenge that can be addressed through a combination of governance, enforcement technology, and engagement.

“We recognise the crucial role the industry and other stakeholders need to play in effectively addressing IUU fishing. Ending IUU fishing remains one of the most important priorities for achieving healthy ocean ecosystems and protecting the welfare of millions of people around the world, Guianas and Guyana who depend on fisheries for their livelihoods and food security,” Williams asserted.

Chief Fisheries Officer, Denzil Roberts

She said it is clear that the government recognises that IUU fishing is a major threat to its fisheries resources based on the efforts to develop the plan.

The new manual was made possible through collaboration by various stakeholders including the fisheries department, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), the World Wildlife Fund, FAO, and other government agencies. 

Representatives from French Guiana, Suriname, and the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD), among others, were also present at the launch.