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By Clifford Stanley
Members of the Three Door Fishermen’s Cooperative Society of D’Edward Village West Coast Berbice have been beneficiaries of a programme sensitising them about the serious environmental degradation and human health problems which can be caused by poor management of marine and coastal litter.
The fishermen were urged to join the programme for eco-friendly fishing as it relates to not only the care of the ocean with respect to dumping of garbage and other pollutants in it but also care of the environment around their landing sites as the main components of a modern day approach to sustainable marine fishing
The one-day programme was described as a Marine Coastal Litter Management initiative and the venue was the landing site of the Three Door Fisherman’s Cooperative Society at D’Edward
The programme held Thursday was organised by the Guyana National Fisherfolk Organization in collaboration with the Department of Fisheries of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with funding provided by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) through the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) based in Trinidad.
The resource persons included: Mr. Pameshwar Jainarine Chairman of the Guyana National Fisherfolks Organization (GNFO) , Chief Fisheries Officer Mr Denzil Roberts, Senior Official of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Ms, Aretha Ford, Regional Fisheries Officer for Region 5 (Mahaica/Berbice) Mr. Leyland Sonny and other Senior Officials of the Department of Fisheries.
Mr. Jainarine of the GNFO urged the participants to take care of the ocean because it takes care of them.
He also stressed that they need to take care of the environment of their landing sites since whatever trash is dumped around these areas inevitably gets into the ocean and creates pollution harmful to marine life.
Mr. Jainarine disclosed that the funding obtained from CANARI would also be used to educate communities around the landing site about the dangers of pollution caused by indiscriminate dumping of garbage especially in waterways.
He disclosed that funds from the CANARI initiative will be used for the preparation and placement of signage at centric points in the D’Edward community as well as for the distribution of educational materials within that community and its environs to raise awareness of the required environmentally friendly approach to garbage disposal.
Mr Roberts told the fishermen that pollution through mis-management of marine and coastal waste could be a cause of the drop in the volume of catches. “Your net gets damaged. You throw it overboard. For you that’s it but the reality is that that net continues to catch fish. Fish get entangled in it they die, another set gets entangled in it; they die; and this can go or a very long period of time until that net disintegrates, if it ever does.”
Ms Aretha Forde of the EPA noted that plastic is a major polluter of the ocean.
“The trouble with plastics is that it eventually disintegrates into micro particles which fish can end up ingesting. You eat that fish and you are eating all the chemicals that were used to make up that plastic and the problems for human health are very real. Stuff like cancers; birth malformities etc!”
She urged fishermen to be environmentally conscious both at sea and at their landing sites and thus become contributors to the growing movement towards eco-friendly and clean fishing.
Chairman of the Society Mr Noresh Jairam said that littering of the waterways with plastic bottles old freezers medical waste old containers and lots of plastic bags has been ongoing problem in the area for a number of years. “And of course much of this garbage gets into the ocean when the sluices are opened.”
He thanked the GNFO and CANARI as well as the other collaborating agencies for organising and funding the initiative. He said that that his members will make every effort to keep the awareness of the dangers of marine and beach pollution alive and the desirability of a clean fisheries environment at the landing site at D’ Edward at all times.