5-year sustainable artisanal fisheries action plan completed

─ WWF hands over Strategic Framework and Management Plan for Artisanal Fisheries to Agri-Ministry

DPI, Guyana, Monday, October 14, 2019

In the face of climate change, overfishing, illegal and unregulated fishing, the Ministry of Agriculture has secured a 5-year management plan for the artisanal fisheries sector that will be implemented immediately.

Artisanal fishing involves the exploitation of fish and shrimp species for local consumption or export and is done on various scales.

Following a simple ceremony on Monday, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Guianas handed over the 24-page document to Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Noel Holder.

There are 5 objectives outlined in the action plan. They seek to address issues relating to licensing and registration, marine environment, safety and order at sea, dialogue cooperation and coordination, and finance.

Minister Holder remarked that the transformation of the artisanal sector will undergo is one that is necessary for its growth.

“These changes will be resisted by many, but with awareness programmes by the Fisheries Department, and with assistance by Cooperatives, I am sure all involved in this sub-sector will be willing to adapt to these changes,” the Agriculture Minister stated.

Among some of the changes that are necessary to effectively manage the sector are modification to fishing gear, to the types that are more environmentally friendly, along with the enforcement of closed seasons.

During an invited comment, Chief Fisheries Officer within the Department of Fisheries, Denzil Roberts touched on another topical area that the action plan seeks to address. “We will have more enforcement to ensure that the vessels are licensed,” the official explained.

Meanwhile, WWF-Guianas’s Country Manager, Aiesha Williams mentioned that while the conservation body consistently partners with the Ministry of Agriculture’s Department of Fisheries, further collaboration will be done as the plan is being implemented.

According to Williams, “we will definitely work with the department to assess the fish stock. We are really re-catching, re-eating, but we don’t have a good idea of the fish stock and the impact of our fisheries extraction on the stock itself.”

Without knowing the fish stock for different species, monitoring of fish populations may be difficult. Hence, the Country Manager declared that once a baseline of the fisheries stock is established, monitoring can be done. This will address concerns such as the harvest of fish of improper sizes and low harvest counts.

Williams highlighted that under the Safety and Order at Sea section within the plan, the actions to be taken seek to improve tracking of vessels, reporting and addressing piracy.

As such, while pledging to work alongside the Fisheries Department during the phases of implementation, Williams described the handing over of the management plan as one that is, “a show of our commitment for safeguarding of our marine environment, as well as the wellbeing and our livelihoods of folks that depend on the sector.”

This management plan, that runs from 2019 to 2024, allows Guyana to maintain its obligations towards upholding the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #14 which seeks to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.