Agriculture Ministry receives manuals to better manage fisheries industry

150 artisanal fisherfolk from Reg. 2 – 6 receive safety equipment

The Ministry of Agriculture is now better equipped to manage Guyana’s fisheries sector after receiving three manuals to guide operations in the sector.

Head of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) delegation in Guyana, Dr. Gillian Smith, and representative of the World Wildlife Fund – Guianas (WWF-Guianas), Aiesha Williams handed over two manuals to Agriculture Minister, Honourable Zulfikar Mustapha – one, a management plan for Guyana’s marine fisheries for 2022 to 2027 and the other, a brackish water shrimp production training manual for Guyana. Both documents were developed based on country-specific data gathered by the FAO, WWF, and the ministry’s Fisheries Department.

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha along with officials from the FAO and the WWF-Guiana with some of the fisherfolk who received the equipment

Chief Fisheries Officer, Denzil Roberts also handed over Guyana’s seabob Management Plan for 2022-2027 to Minister Mustapha.

While offering remarks, Minister Mustapha said that documents were critical to the sustainable development of Guyana’s fisheries. He noted that when dealing with the sector, a scientific approach is necessary and that both artisanal fisherfolk and trawler operators are once again reporting almost 100% increases in their catch.

“We have three very important documents here. When we look at the fishing industry, we have to be cognizant of the fact that we have to do it in a scientific way. As it pertains to the seabob industry, we’ve had issues in the industry with low catches. We consulted the FAO to undertake a study to help us determine the reasons. The study sighted climate change as one of the main reasons. Although we said this, a lot of misinformation was being peddled because people had their own theories and agendas. Today, we’ve been vindicated because the Trawlers’ Association is now reporting a steep increase in catches; almost 100%. We’ve also seen increases in the brackish water industry from 10,000kg when we started to 90,000 kg per month now,” Minister Mustapha said.

Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha displays one of the manuals

Minister Mustapha also said that the government has been investing heavily in the sector with about $500 million being expended to develop the sector in 2022.  

While speaking about the Brackish Water Shrimp Production Training Manual, Head of the FAO Delegation in Guyana, Dr. Gillian Smith said that the documents were country-specific and hoped that the manuals would complement the government’s efforts to boost the industry.  

“The brackish water shrimp manual was developed together with the work and support of many of the fishers and farmers who are growing black shrimp here. It is also very specific to Guyana. We know this industry has a lot of potential and has already begun to show that potential. So, we are hoping that this manual will increase and accelerate the implementation that is being seen on the ground,” Dr. Smith noted.

Minister Zulfikar Mustapha hands over some of the safety equipment to one of the fishermen who attended the handing over

Citing the importance of the Marine Fisheries Management Plan and ensuring the sustainability of the industry, WWF-Guianas representative Aiesha Williams said that the organization was happy to partner with the ministry on the development of the manual.

“I believe this plan really captures a number of areas that are important for the sector and its sustainability not only in terms of fish stocks but also in terms of income for fisherfolk and their families and contributing to Guyana’s economy. The next step will be the implementation to achieve all the targets that were set out within the given time frame,” Ms. Williams said.

Minister Mustapha also handed over safety equipment to artisanal fisherfolk from around the country to assist with their operations and guarantee their safety while at sea. Some 150 fisherfolk from Regions Two to Six are expected to benefit from some $9,614,8347 worth of equipment which includes life jackets, raincoats, industrial safety whistles, 2.1-gallon fuel canisters, and first aid kits which were procured through funding from the FAO.