No licences have been granted to any Chinese company for deep sea fishing although various companies have expressed interest, according to Minister of Agriculture Dr Leslie Ramsammy.
“No licence will be granted for open fishing. If given, it will be for specific species,” Ramsammy told Stabroek News yesterday, while noting that there has been one group that has expressed interest and that the ministry has asked for a research proposal.
In November of last year, he had said the government was not considering granting fishing licences but that a Memorandum of Understanding was granted to an unnamed Chinese company to undertake a study of seafood that would allow for fishing that would not impact the local industry.
The minister was at the time responding to concerns expressed by the Guyana Human Rights Association over reports that the government was considering the licensing of Chinese fishing vessels in this country’s waters.
Head of the Fisheries Department, Denzil Roberts, while noting that all foreign licences are dealt with at the minister’s level, echoed Ramsammy’s statements.
“The Fisheries Department and the Ministry of Agriculture have no agreement with Chinese companies for potential licences to be granted,” he explained in an e-mail response.
“We have been approached by several individuals and groups and we have advised them to research the deep water resources and apply for species specific licences,” he added.
Neither Ramsammy nor Roberts was able to give any specifics on whether the unnamed Chinese company had sent in any information as yet and the status of the research.
In recent years, research has shown a depletion in prawns and seabob and Ramsammy said this meant that no licence would be granted if those species were included in licence proposals. He had also acknowledged that while no licences have been granted to any Chinese vessels for deep sea fishing, monitoring was a difficult task. He had told Stabroek News that there was no way to effectively monitor what is being fished in the deep seas due to poor enforcement.
Meanwhile, recent pirate attacks have seen fishermen once more calling for more to be done. Most recently, Ramsammy disclosed that due to the criticisms over the state of piracy along the coast, trawler owners will not be granted licences without a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS). The 24-hour monitoring systems, which are expected to be installed by the beginning of 2015, are being seen as an aid in the regulation of fishing.