Highlights of the work of Guyana’s Fisheries Department

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The fisheries sector of Guyana consists of three aspects: marine fishery, aquaculture, and inland fishery. Most of the fisheries activities are concentrated on the nation’s continental shelf, as well as the continental slope (to a small extent).
Marine fishery is mostly concerned with shrimp trawling and utilizing ground-fish resources.
Managing this sector is the Fisheries Department, which is located within the Ministry of Agriculture.
While the main Administrative Office (Head Office) of the Fisheries Department is located in the Ministry of Agriculture’s compound in Regent and Vlissengen Rds., Georgetown, Region Four, the Department also has out of town bases. These areas are:
• Houston, East Bank Demerara – The staff there form the Legal and Inspectorate Unit.
• Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara – The office in this area is known as the SatyadeowSawh Aquaculture Station (SSAS). The majority of the staff’s activities revolve around the operations of this facility. They form the core of the Aquaculture and Inland Fisheries Unit.
• Anna Regina, Essequibo Coast – The Anna Regina Fish Station (ANFS) is located in that area. The purpose of this facility is to provide fingerlings, as well as information and extension services to the fish farmers in Region Two. It also functions as base for the staff activities in Region Two (both marine and aquaculture related).
• Rosignol and New Amsterdam (Berbice) – The few staff in Berbice are tasked with coordinating the Fisheries Department’s activities (both marine and aquaculture related) in Regions Five and Six.
In addition to this, the Fisheries Department has several sub-programmes. These include Resource Assessment and Statistics, Aquaculture and Inland Fisheries, Program Administration, and Extension.
While its work has been extensive in its sub programmes, the Department revealed that permission was granted to one industrial company (Pritipaul Singh Investment Inc.) to convert one vessel and equip one trawler type vessel to explore deep seas long line fishing, to determine the feasibility of this practice, after which consideration will be given to granting full licenses for this method of fishing.
Meanwhile, it was also noted that revenue collected from other licenses was $ 25.24 million. This represents 17.43% decrease from the G$ 30.75 million revenue collected in 2014.
With regard to exports, it was observed that in 2015, USA received the large majority of the fish products (58%) exported by Guyana, with Jamaica receiving 26% of the total export.
It was noted too that in 2015, grey snapper continues to be the most exported species according to individual licenses that were issued, and patwa was the inland fish species that had the highest quantity exported.
As it relates to Marine Production, the Fisheries Department revealed that total production for marine fisheries in 2015 was 35,835 mt. Officials said that the Guyana Private Trawlers Owners and Seafood Processor Association (GPTOSP) had its fourteen annual closed seasons for seabob.
However, no fishing was done during the six weeks period. Officials said that when the fishing period was reopened there was a decrease in the quantity of shrimp caught.
The Department is still analyzing the data submitted and will address the period for closed season with a scientific approach.
Furthermore, there was a 5% increase in sea bob industrial production and an overall 7 % increase in total shrimp production. For finfish, there was an overall 12 % decrease in production when compared with the previous year. Prawns had 18% increase compared to 2014.
The Fisheries Department felt that it is necessary for readers to understand some of the constraints facing its Legal and Inspectorate Unit which eventually led to a number of setbacks in the sector. These include:
• The lack of enforcement operations and prosecution of operators of unlicensed artisanal has led to numerous artisanal vessels being unlicenced over the reporting period of 2015. Only two specific enforcement and surveillance exercises were conducted with the Guyana Defence Force Coast Guard. These exercises resulted in the zoning of some thirty fishing vessels engaged in the anchor seine method of fishing.
• Lack of a dedicated vehicle and driver for the Unit hampers some activities; particularly visits to landing sites and wharves (which are often done early in the morning) and inspection of processing plants.
• The tendency to submit data late by some processing plants severely affected the Unit’s ability to conduct analysis of trends within the industry.
• There is a lack of communication/coordination between the Guyana Coast Guard, Maritime Administration Department, the Fisheries Department and other related government agencies. An improvement in this area, officials believe, will lead to better management of the fisheries sector.
Aquaculture is one of the sub-programmes handled by the fisheries department. In Guyana, it is done along the coast (mainly) and some of the farmed species are shrimp (Penaeussubtilis), tilapia (Oreochromis sp.) and tambaqui (Colossomamacropomun).
Inland fishing activities are conducted in freshwater areas such as rivers and lakes; these include capture fishing activities, as well as sports fishing and aquaculture.
However, most inland fisheries activities are mainly subsistence activities, although ornamental fishes are utilised for commercial purposes.
Managing the performance of this area is the Aquaculture Unit. The mandate of this Unit is to operate aquaculture research, fingerling production and training facility, and facilitate the development and expansion of aquaculture and Inland Fisheries.
The Fisheries Department’s involvement with Aquaculture development is spearheaded by the SatyadeowSawh Aquaculture Station (SSAS) of the Fisheries Department.
The facility is used to execute research activities, train farmers and students, and produce fingerlings (young fish). The SSAS also provides extension services and free technical advice to farmers. There is also an aquaculture facility in Region Two, Anna Regina Fish Station (ARFS), which also provides fingerlings and some extension services to aquaculture farmers.
The Responsibilities of the ARFS include providing information on site selection, pond preparation and farm management; technology transfer and training for local farmers; conducting trials on feeding, growth rates, and other parameters regarding species with aquaculture potential; and collecting data from aquaculture farmers.
With regard to fingerling production and fingerling sales, it was found that SSAS has been producing tilapia fingerlings (Oreochromis Sp.) at subsidized cost to farmers for several years.
In fact, it was noted that in 2015, 83,352 fingerlings, valuing at $1,166,928 were sold to 34 farmers from Region Two, Three, Four, Five and Six. Officials said that Region Six and Region Four farmers bought the bulk of the fingerlings provided by SSAS.
Additionally, 2251 fingerlings were donated for use at Agriculture Month activities, and to University of Guyana for research purposes.
The total fingerlings sold by the ARFS facility amounted to 698, valued at $9,772.
However, ARFS is being severely affected by indiscriminate dumping of sewage into their main irrigation canal, lack of breeding stock, poorly laid out ponds for fingerling production and the need for another pond attendant.
As for the area of Aquaculture production, this is gathered from select farmers, particularly in Region Six but also from Regions Four, Five and Nine. However, officials said that it is important to note that some of the figures are estimated due to a lack of sufficient data.
Additionally, the officials within this area said that data was requested from some aquaculture companies but they were not provided. Also, based on the data received so far, the aquaculture production for 2015 is 2.55 mt., while 4.09 mt was produced last year.
Furthermore, the Guyana Private Trawlers Owners and Seafood Processor Association (GPTOSP) had its fourteen annual closed seasons for seabob. No fishing was done during the six weeks period. When the fishing period was reopened there was a decrease in the quantity of shrimp caught. The Department is still analyzing the data submitted and will address the period for closed season with a scientific approach.
There was a 5% increase in seabob industrial production and an overall 7 % increase in total shrimp production. For finfish there was an overall 12 % decrease in production when compared with the previous year. Prawns had 18% increase compared to 2014.
In 2015, USA received the large majority of the fish products (58%) exported by Guyana, with Jamaica receiving 26% of the total export. It was noted that in 2015 grey snapper continues to be the most exported species according to individual licenses that were issued, and patwa was the inland fish species that had the highest quantity exported.

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