Fisheries production increased by 37.8% in 2023 – Min. Mustapha

$75 M contract signed to refurbish Meadow Bank wharf; additional $50 M landing site, vending area

Following a period of declined catches, which were due to several reasons including climate change, Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha disclosed that in 2023, 36,396 MT for seafood was harvested in the fishing industry, representing an increase of 37.8%.

Minister Mustapha made this disclosure while addressing fisherfolk from across the country who gathered at the Uitvlugt Community Center to observe Fisherfolk Day 2024. This year’s event was held under the theme “Protecting Livelihoods, establishing a Safe and Sustainable Environment for our Fisherfolk”.

Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha

While delivering remarks, the minister said that fishing remains an extremely dangerous profession and commended the nation’s fisherfolk for the sacrifices made for their family and the country.

“We must commend and applaud our fisherfolk for the sacrifices they make by braving the elements at sea to earn a living and provide citizens with affordable and nutritious sources of protein. As a government, we are positioning this country to be a major food producer and exporter in CARICOM and you have a very important role to play in these efforts. In 2023, 36,396 MT of seafood was harvested in the fishing industry representing an increase of 37.8%. The aquaculture industry is also doing well. Last year, that sector grew by 75%. If we match these production figures with the earnings, you will see that in 2023, the sector earned US $54 million,” he noted.

He also said that since the government took office, systems have been put in place to ensure fisherfolk have greater representation and a stronger voice in policy-making processes.

A section of the gathering at Fisherfolk Day 2024

“Since our return to government, significant strides have been made to enhance the fisheries sector through initiatives aimed at improving safety, increasing sustainability, and ensuring economic security for our fisherfolk. In recent years, the Ministry of Agriculture has worked tirelessly to bolster the resilience of our fishing communities. With the establishment of the Guyana National Fisherfolk Organization, we have empowered our fisherfolk with greater representation and a stronger voice in policy-making processes. We’ve also resuscitated and enhanced all fishing vessel landing sites across the country. That was a programme initiated by President Ali,” Minister Mustapha explained.

The minister also said that the government is currently expending large sums of money to rehabilitate facilities like the Meadow Bank wharf and the surrounding vending and landing areas.

“Only last week, we signed a contract valued at approximately $75 million for the refurbishing of the Meadow Bank wharf. An additional $50 million will also be expended to develop the areas around the landing site at the wharf to enhance the aesthetic. These upgrades will include the construction of sheds, water facilities, and stalls for persons who sell fish and other seafood there,” he explained.

Last March, President Ali visited the Meadow Bank wharf which is currently utilized by approximately 42 fishermen several vendors, and other stakeholders. During his visit, the Head of State instructed that a design for the necessary upgrades be completed and submitted within two weeks.

FAO’s Country Representative to Guyana, Dr. Gillian Smith

Meanwhile, FAO Country Director, Dr. Gillian Smith said that the impacts of climate change, the degradation of fishing habitats, and the intersection of fisheries activities with other activities have an impact on the fisheries sector on a global scale.

“We know as we go forward that the fishing sector is not an easy sector; its not an easy sector to make a living in. When you make a living, you make a good living. When things are bad, they are really bad. There are also all sorts of other things that impact global fisheries and I am sure that for Guyana, they are not so different. Climate change and the impacts of climate change, degradation of fishing habitats, and the intersection of fisheries activities with other activities…all these are impacting fisheries on a global scale.  have an impact on the fisheries sector on a global scale,” Dr. Smith said.

She also encouraged the fisherfolk present to collaborate with stakeholders and collaborators and to cooperate with the technical officers and each other to meet the local and global demand for fish and other seafood.

Since taking office, the government has been working assiduously to enhance the livelihoods of fisherfolk across the country. In May 2022, President Ali announced a one-off $150,000 relief grant for fisherfolk; an initiative that benefited approximately 7,500 fisherfolk.