Guyana begins to import fish; shrimp – fishermen blame ExxonMobil’s ongoing oil operations

Imported fish &  shrimp

Kaieteur News – Nov 15, 2021.  Amid a shortage of fish here, supermarkets are now stocking their freezers with imported fish and shrimp from Florida and Jamaica. And while local fishermen have sought to blame the situation on ExxonMobil’s ongoing oil operations in Guyana’s waters, the American oil giant has downplayed this, saying impacts from its operations on marine life is minor to negligible.

Visits to supermarkets in the City have revealed that a number of supermarkets are stocked with imported seafood. When the first six months of 2019, 2020 and 2021 were compared, it was revealed that for the past two years, fish and shrimp production has been declining. This was seen in the recent Bank of Guyana (BoG) Half-Year Report.       

According to that report, the fishing industry recorded mixed output performance and this resulted in a smaller reduction of 6.6 percent compared to the 12.1 percent recorded in June 2020. It was also stated that there was a decline in catches of fish and shrimp by 22.1 percent and 11.8 percent, respectively, due to a reduction in the number of fishing vessels operating.
A table in the report illustrated the fish and shrimp production as follows: fish (tonnes); 2019 – 10,378, 2020 – 9,509 and 2021 – 7,406, and for shrimp (tonnes) 2019- 10,046; 2020 – 9,259 and 2021 – 8,171.

Similar to what was reported in the Half-Year Report, the Ministry of Finance’s 2021 Mid-Year Report mirrored the data that was in the BoG report. Both reports highlighted the decline in fish and shrimp production in the country.

According to the Mid-Year Report, the chemical changes in Guyana’s coastal waters have caused a significant decrease in shrimp production. It was also underlined that Guyanese fishermen recorded lower catch rates for white belly shrimp and finfish, and when compared to the same period for the previous year, there was a significant decrease in the production of white belly shrimp and finfish by 75.5 percent and 26.3 percent, respectively.

The significant reduction in the production of white belly shrimp was caused by a change in salinity of coastal waters. Salinity is the degree of saltiness of the water.

Interviews conducted by this publication revealed that our fishermen have been “catching hell”.

Kaieteur News had received numerous reports of a rapid depletion of fish in Guyana’s waters and that a number of fishermen have blamed poor regulations by the Government for issuing too many fishing licences, thereby causing the sea to become overcrowded with fishing boats.

On the other hand, others believe that it might be as a result of the ongoing exploration, drilling and production of crude by ExxonMobil. In light of this, no independent study has been made public by the government about the effects these oil operations have on the nation’s marine life.

However, during the recent Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) consultation for the fourth oil project in Guyana waters, the American oil giant company stated that the possible environmental impacts to marine fish, their operations might have is negligible to minor. They presented to the forum that the changes in fish distribution due to altered water quality, is negligible to minor, while they reported that the changes in distribution and habitat usage, loss of fish eggs and larvae due to entrainment of immature life stages, loss of fish eggs and larvae due to entrainment of immature life stages and exposure to artificial light and sound are negligible. The American oil giant also presented that their offshore structures create artificial habitat for marine fish and that they are adhering to international standards for treatment of discharges to water.

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  • Ian Welch  On 11/15/2021 at 9:39 am

    Tilapia shown in the pic is a freshwater typically farmed fish. GuySuco had a tilapia operation back in the 70/80s when there was some public resistance to this type of farm produced fish. Maybe that farming method needs to be revisited now it is apparently more acceptable.

  • wally n  On 11/15/2021 at 1:13 pm

    I thought I posted..handle it.
    I would like to know “original”source, more than likely, China, Vietnam, presently flooding Canada. Maybe it is time the Government help fishermen obtain larger, improved, vessels that allows them to cover more area, that is what they are up against.
    Sure people remember Japanese trawlers, fishing far and wide (illegally?) the sailors would sell the discarded small shrimp,only interested in giant prawns.
    There is someone on this sight, with knowledge of the Industry,then.
    I agree with taking a look into fish/shrimp farms, instead of buying from other countries.

  • WIC  On 11/15/2021 at 1:19 pm

    So lots of fish is missing eh? do the authorities have any idea how much was stolen initially by Russian trawlers during the 70’s and in recent years by the Chinese? they would put down nets that were 5 miles long, run them in a circle and haul out everything, edible or trash fish, the latter which scavenged and cleaned the ocean. Were the two GM’s of the former Georgetown Seafoods Ltd. still alive(I wouldn’t call their names), they would confirm my comments and what is happening all over the world with the stealing of seafood resources – check it out on U-Tube.

    Why do you think that in the early 70’s, Chile extended its economic zone to 200 miles offshore and now along with Argentina and Peru they are sinking Chinese fishing boats caught in their territorial waters? This is an economic war, where China in particular, is stealing other countries seafood to feed its own people. Did Venezuela not seize boats operated by Guyanese fishermen sometime over the past 24 months? Fish farming has its merits, good and bad, along with the problems inherent in dealing with local thieves who would harvest what they didn’t sow, coconuts also come to mind here.

  • brandli62  On 11/15/2021 at 3:03 pm

    What’s evidence that offshore oil production is responsible for the decline in fish and shrimp production. As far as I remember the production has been declining for the last 2-3 years. Keep in mind that there is a thriving fish and shrimp industry along the coasts of Louisiana, Alabama and Florida despite the fact that there is offshore oil production in the Gulf of Mexico.

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