Gov’t made significant progress in tackling illegal fishing – Min Bharrat

urges greater emphasis on protecting marine spaces

Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat, has highlighted the government’s commitment to preserving Guyana’s marine spaces, recognising their importance for environmental sustainability, economic growth, and cultural heritage.

As a result, the minister disclosed that the implementation of comprehensive policies and initiatives have resulted in significant progress being made in tackling illegal fishing.

Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat

Minister Bharrat was at the time speaking during the United Nations’ (UN) ‘Blue Talks’ series, at the UN House on Duke Street, Georgetown, on Thursday.

“In the past, it was a challenge for us, but I think we have managed to deal with that situation. I will not say that we have eradicated it totally, but I will say that we have put a lot of systems in place to minimise this illegal practice in our marine space,” he said.

The natural resources minister highlighted that under the purview of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a comprehensive software was developed to provide 24-hour monitoring of the country’s marine spaces, with the capacity to identify any vessels operating in these areas.

“Through that software, we have managed to curb illegal fishing within our marine space,” the minister highlighted.

In addition to this software, and in relation to oil exploration activities, the minister pointed out that produced water is treated to international standards before being re-discharged into the ocean.

This process removes oil, grease, and other contaminants that can harm marine life and ecosystems.

“As a government, I think we’re putting a lot of steps in place to not only preserve our forests but also our marine space…We are committed to ensuring that we work with the UN and any other stakeholder who are willing to work with us…We are balancing economic development with the preservation of our environment,” Minister Bharrat assured.

The United Nations’ (UN) ‘Blue Talks’ series, at the UN House on Duke Street, Georgetown, on Thursday

He was also quick to assure that oil exploration activities are performed approximately 100 miles from the coast, and do not contribute to a decline in the fishing industry, as is inaccurately reflected in some reports.

In November, the government launched an action plan to strengthen its monitoring, control, surveillance, and enforcement of the fishing industry, as part of its targeted approach to protecting its marine space.

The minister pointed out that Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), which is an extended version of the previous LCDS, includes several innovative measures and concepts, including the creation of a blue economy, in recognition of the importance of marine life.

“If we don’t maintain our forests and our ocean, it will be detrimental to us as humans, that’s the bottom line. So, we have a responsibility to ensure that while we take care of forests, our marine spaces and environment are protected and preserved,” he emphasised.

The ‘Blue Talks’ forum was held under the theme “Accelerating action and mobilising all actors to conserve and sustainably use the ocean.”