On the heels of complaints by fisherfolks across Guyana at the end of 2021 that catches had significantly reduced, making the business unprofitable and leaving them unable to provide for their families, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha told the National Assembly Tuesday that the tide is changing.
He addressed the issue shortly after Shadow Agriculture Minister Khemraj Ramjattan raised concerns that the government was not offering interventions to cushion the effect of the low fish catches.
It was Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh who first announced in his budget presentation that despite the challenges being faced by the subsector, fishing is estimated to have grown by 11 per cent, having shown signs of recovery in the latter half of 2021.
On Tuesday, Mustapha confirmed that increases were observed in production across all fish products, with the most significant growth observed for industrial finfish, which grew by 235.4 per cent.
“I want to quote a reputable processor in the fishing industry… one of the largest exporters in the history of Guyana told me last night that production increased from 400,000 tonnes at the end of last year to one million tonnes in January,” Mustapha said.
But undermining the subsector’s overall performance was a 13.5 per cent decline in the production of shrimp, as a result of declines in catches of whitebelly and industrial seabob shrimp.
These declines outweighed increased catches of artisanal seabob shrimp and prawns.
In the 2022 budget, the government has allocated a total of $743.7 million for the development of the fishing sector.
In 2022, $230 million is budgeted for the second phase of the brackish-water shrimp production initiative. Both phases are expected to raise aquaculture production by over 300 per cent moving brackish-water shrimp production to 500,000 kg per annum.
Additionally, Budget 2022 provides a sum of $200 million to introduce and develop marine cage fishing which will enhance the production of prawns and tilapia.
This will provide an important alternative production modality for Guyana’s fisherfolk.
In 2022, the greenhouse at the Satyadeow Sawh Aquaculture Station will be upgraded for the promotion of aquaponics, as a climate-smart option for food production. Research will be also undertaken in indigenous high-value species and the use of local low-cost feed ingredients into aquafeed development.