Fish ban bites hard for local fishermen

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By Bibi Khatoon

The recent decision by the United States Government to ban the export of certain species of fish from Guyana is beginning to hit home, with fishermen pondering their next move and counting their losses.

In some cases, exporters have had to dump tonnes of preserved fish, while some fishermen are being forced to sell-off their catch at cheap prices, leaving them with insufficient to take care of their expenses.

News Room on Monday spoke with Leonard Jethoo, who operates the Wild Caught processing plant at Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara.

The businessman related that he has already lost approximately US$25,000 after one of his 40-ft container of smoked catfish was dumped in the US on Thursday (March 15, 2018). The container, he said, was shipped since October 2017 and cost at least US$5,000 for storage per month.

Workers are preparing to dump another set on Tuesday. “I am very devastated right now and I am very hurt about this but I can’t do anything,” Jethoo said.

He called on the government to get the issue sorted out since the government is also losing revenue.

“I don’t know but I think if the Government of Guyana had known…upgrading the laws like these people require or what they need to place, I think they should have put that in place. I don’t know why they didn’t put it in place. They’re not being affected, we’re being affected,” he noted.

“You know how many persons are out of a job right now?”

It is not only the businessman who is counting his losses as he is supplied by a large number of local fishermen.

The visibly distraught man said he is already faced with challenges as it relates to piracy.

Manager at the processing plant, Deonarine, told News Room that the entity purchases fish from fishermen across the country. He related that workers would visit from Parika, East Bank Essequibo to Berbice, Region Six to purchase fish from the fishermen.

It was announced last week that the US government imposed a temporary ban on fish exports from Guyana after the country failed to comply with requirements.

The U.S. Government Wednesday last said that it informed Guyana of changes to its food safety regulations regarding fish and shrimp since November 2015 and even extended the deadline for compliance.

The Embassy said the U.S. Government takes very seriously the protection of the world’s waterways and marine life and is constantly its regulations and processes to ensure that waterways and marine life are protected.

Among the fishes banned are Giilbacker, CumaCuma, Cuirass, Hassar and Kukwari.

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