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…meeting with Trawler Association pushed to next week
The much anticipated meeting with the Guyana Association of Trawler Owners and Seafood Processors (GATOSP) and the Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha has been pushed to next week due to scheduling conflicts between the two sides.
Though currently tight lipped on the names of the beneficiaries of the two new trawler licenses, the Agriculture Minister said he will release the names of the licensees during the meeting as well as the findings of an investigation done into the Fishing Industry.
When contacted by Village Voice News on Thursday, Minister Mustapha said the meeting is likely to be held next week. According to him, in December representatives of GATOSP were invited to a meeting but due to scheduling conflicts and the holidays that followed, the meeting was postponed.
GATOSP President, Reuben Charles, on Thursday, told this publication that a date for the meeting has not been set
A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Member of Parliament, Khemraj Ramjattan has turned to the National Assembly for answers on the issuance of the trawler licenses.
It has been close to two months since the GATOSP expressed deep concern about the issuance of two trawler licenses at a time when the country and world at large are grappling with the issue of overfishing. GATOSP is also contending that the issuance of the licenses also breach an agreement between the association and the Agriculture Ministry established pre-2015.
Approached by GATOSP, Ramjattan tabled a total of four questions in the National Assembly. The questions for written replies were circulated in the House on Wednesday, December 23, 2020 during the 14th Sitting of the National Assembly.
Ramjattan is trying to ascertain the names of the companies or individuals, who were issued trawler licenses for the period 2020-2021; whether any due diligence was done ahead of the issuance of the licenses and whether GATOSP was consulted in any way prior to the granting of the licenses.
In a letter to Minister Mustapha on November 19, 2020, GATOSP President sought an explanation on the “unilateral” decision taken by the Agriculture Ministry to issue the licenses for trawling for shrimp.
“Limiting the fishing effort by controlling the number of vessels is the most assured way throughout all fisheries in the world of preventing overfishing. Following the catastrophe i.e. the collapse of the prawn fisheries in Guyana, the Association and the Fisheries Department worked out an agreement to decrease the seabob trawling fleet of 100 trawlers by 20% over a three year period (2011-2013). The Ministry also gave the undertaking that no new license would be issued. Noble House Seafoods, Pritipaul Singh Investment, Gopie Investment and private owners all gave up licenses,” Charles explained in the letter to the Minister.
He told Minister Mustapha the award of the licenses is not consistent nor supportive of the efforts to sustainably manage the Fishing Industry. “It should be noted that any additional vessels added to the current licensing agreements is in contravention to the law that the Association and Fisheries Department has agreed upon, this also can have the MSC certification revoked since MSC has not been notified about the new licensing arrangements and justification for the increase,” GATOSP President explained.