Fishermen report 40% reduction in catches due to COVID-19
Data obtained by the Guyana National Fisherfolk Organisation has revealed that Guyana’s fishing industry took a hard hit when the pandemic emerged here in March of 2020 with a 40% reduction reported in catches.
Chair of the organisation, Pamashwar Jainarine, made the disclosure on Tuesday during the 2021 celebrations of National Fisherfolk Day held under the theme “Promoting Social Responsibility to Safeguard Fisheries Resources and Livelihoods”.
“This pandemic has devastated many businesses and the fishing industry is feeling the full brunt of it. Our catches have reduced by as much as 40% while our expenses are going up,” Jainarine said at the event held at the Bourda Cricket Ground.
According to him, seasonal flooding and severe weather patterns over the past few months have also further exposed how vulnerable the industry has become. Jainarine said that this has resulted in some fisherfolk developing a ‘wild west’ attitude to earn with little regard for the laws and regulations governing the sector.
“At present…there is no serious effort to use the resource in a manner that would ensure its continuous sustainability years down into the future.”
He highlighted that the theme for this year’s celebration was apt as it underscored the need for stricter policies to be enforced to promote and safeguard Guyana’s fishing resources.
In this regard, the Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, said that progress is being made to ensure that Guyana has a viable and sustainable fisheries sector. He highlighted that a new strategic plan for inland fisheries and aquaculture development and management in Guyana 2021-2026 is being currently being drafted.
Further, the Fisheries Advisory Committee was recently resuscitated to help better monitor the industry and promote good fishing practices. He too highlighted that the pandemic had an adverse effect on the industry, resulting in market disruptions that have severely affected the lives of small-scale fishers and fishing communities.
With the industry playing a critical role in global food security and recovery from the pandemic, the Agriculture Minister urged fisherfolk to work towards the prosperity of the fisheries industry.
“Fishing is hard-work and a risky business…the ministry knows the challenges you face every day out there in the rivers and oceans.
“The Fisheries Department is committed to assisting you in every way to help mitigate these challenges…working together to ensure that this very important industry in Guyana would continue to perform, improve and prosper continuously for many generations to come,” the minister said.
As part of the celebrations, awards were given to the best fisherman and most improved Cooperative Society. Those went to Khalil Mohammed of Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) and the No 66. Village Corentyne Co-op Society.