By Vishani Ragobeer
The decline in the amount of fish caught by fisherfolk who have been plying their trade for a number of years has been a growing concern but President Dr. Irfaan Ali has outlined several strategies the government intends to roll out to remedy this issue.
“We are not sitting back and being observers to a discussion on the reducing fish catch out there,” the Head- of- State declared Tuesday while speaking to dozens of young people at an event held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre at Liliendaal, Georgetown.
Over the past few months, there have been increasing reports of fisherfolk garnering reduced catches. And there has been much speculation about the root cause of this issue.
Because of the concerns raised, the Ministry of Agriculture enlisted the help of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to determine the reason behind the decline in fish being caught.
Before that analysis is completed, however, President Ali said that the government has the responsibility to find solutions for the fisherfolk.
And so he stated the government’s intention to implement marine cages in both coastal and hinterland regions. These cages are man-made structures placed in waterways and utilised the same body of water.
“… in hinterland communities, we are looking at marine cages in the river where the water is flowing so that we can grow tilapia there and it is a more relaxed environment,” the President said, explaining that this is expected to reduce the cost of operation.
For coastal fisherfolk, who have been more vocal about the reduced catches, the President said that similar cages will be established.
“… when you examine the numbers, each one of those marine cages can bring in a net value of close to eight million annually and you can pay back for the investment within six months,” the Head of State said.
Meanwhile, he also outlined other strategies already in the pipeline.
Dr. Ali pointed out that a new ‘swamp shrimp’ project has been launched in Region Six (East Berbice- Corentyne); this is expected to satisfy a niche market that already has great demand.
Additionally, the President noted that there will be an increased focus on aquaculture – specifically on the production of more prawns and tilapia locally.
For this project, 100 acres of land for the pond has already been identified and the President believes that enough of this fish and seafood can be produced to meet local demand.
With all of these plans, the Head of State committed to the implementation of additional programmes that would help to boost local fish production and garner additional revenues for fisherfolk.