Banning of Guyana’s Catfish from US market is “a big blow”
The banning of Guyana’s catfish species from the US export market is “a big blow” to the local market, according to the Ministry of Health.
However, to solve the problem, Dr Ozaye Dodson, Veterinary Public Health Director, said Guyana’s Fishery Product Regulations of 2003 needs to be updated.
Dr Dodson, according to the statement from the Health Ministry, explained that “Our (Fisheries) Act is broad covering all species of fish. The US has specific regulations for the catfish species (and) there has been no changes to the local Act since 2003. There will have to be some adjustments to the Fisheries Act Inspection Manual and Regulations to bridge the gaps.”
The Veterinary Public Health official said changes to the country’s Fisheries Act and Regulations will be taken shortly to the Attorney General’s Chambers.
When this is accomplished, US officials will conduct an audit of the local fisheries department and other relevant agencies “to pave the way for the country’s likely re-entry into the American catfish export market.”
Guyana was among several countries were temporarily banned recently from the US catfish export. Others were Bangladesh, Canada, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria and Pakistan.
In Guyana’s case, it was found that the country fell short of the US standards in three areas: firstly, on the issue of the presence of inspectors; secondly, there was insufficient documentation detailing verification of each step in the sanitation and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) process and thirdly, there was insufficient documentation specifying how the industry manages adulterated catfish products.
New U.S standards for import of catfish species demands the presence of inspectors on plants for one hour during an 8-hour shift. Dr Dodson
Quoting Dr Dodson, the Ministry explained that Guyana’s inspection pursues a “risk-based approach” which is a European Union (EU) standard.
The move by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is a “protectionist measure” by that country’s public health system and the catfish farmers who have invested heavily to develop the industry there.
He said the Health Ministry’s Veterinary Public Health Department is “working assiduously” with the Fisheries unit of the Agriculture Ministry to realign Guyana’s legal framework with new US fishery export demands.