Govt. actively engaged with U.S authority on catfish ban – Minister Harmon

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Government of Guyana, through the Ministry of Agriculture, is actively engaged with the United States (US) authority to resolve the issue of a restriction on the importation of smoked and salted Siluriformes species of fish to the US, in the shortest possible time.

This was revealed by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon at his weekly post-Cabinet press briefing today.

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon.

Minister Harmon explained that the action by the US, which saw the revision of the rules for import of fish into the US, was a protective measure. He said that Guyana is one of several countries that were affected.

“The Minister of Agriculture briefed Cabinet on the matter. He pointed out that there are other international markets which remain unaffected. The Minister stated that the difference in the ways in which catfish (one of the species of Siluriformes fish) was sourced, that is farm raised, against wild caught fish and processed in the USA and Guyana, and the required documentation were the main reasons for the restriction.”

The Minister of State further explained that the ban is seeking to address the issue of farm-reared catfish, hence, he believes the engagement will lead to positive outcomes.

Catfish is one of the staple diets of Guyanese in the diaspora and therefore, while it does affect Guyanese in the US, it does not affect those in Canada, United Kingdom, and other countries, Minister Harmon pointed out.

The Ministry of Agriculture has announced that with effect from February 3, 2018, the exportation of smoked and salted Siluriformes (catfish, gillbacker, cuirass, cuma cuma, hassar, kukwarri) species of fish to the USA will be restricted until the necessary requirements, as outlined by the Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), are met.

The Ministry’s Fisheries Department and the Veterinary Public Health Unit (VPHU) are in the process of completing the FSIS’s Review of Guyana’s Siluriformes Self-Reporting Tool (SRT), so as to ensure that Guyana would continue to export fresh and frozen Siluriformes species to the USA. Exporters have expressed their concern with the development and committed to working with local authorities to ensure that Guyana continues to have access to the U.S. market for its seafood products.

 

By: Synieka Thorne

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