A group of Corentyne fishermen yesterday held a protest at Port Mourant, Corentyne, Berbice, against shrimp from Suriname being sold at markets in and around the Corentyne area. According to the protesting fishermen, this affects their livelihood. They said that if the shrimp caught by local fishers is being sold at $4,000 per bucket, the shrimp from Suriname sells at $2,000 per bucket, undercutting them and causing then to lose sales.
One man said, “Me get kids to mine and when people get the shrimps at a lower price, dem gun take it.” The fishermen stated that often the shrimp from Suriname was not kept frozen, causing it to be not fit for human consumption. Fishermen alleged that the shrimp is being smuggled into the country, as according to them, Suriname does not issue certificates of wholesomeness for shrimp.
One frustrated fisherman, Ronald Arjune of Whim Village said, “Firstly is a bad quality and will affect the entire country. These people will fool people in the different areas in this country that this shrimp come from various farms in Guyana and call the Guyana farmers’ name and sell the Suriname shrimp. When people have a bad experience with the shrimp, dem will say is Guyana shrimp. Because the shrimp go out to all parts of the world, this will cripple the industry.”
According to Arjune, after a meeting with the Port Mourant market clerk, they were assured that vendors will not be allowed to sell shrimp from Suriname in the market.
“The market clerk said she will not accept this shrimp anymore, let we take we shrimps to the market. Normally, the vendors does go and take it at home and sell it in the same market. I personally take my shrimp in the market make the clerk dem to know, I bring my shrimps to sell,” Arjune stated.
He said that a few vendors are complaining that they are not being supplied with the local product, and are forced to purchase shrimp from Suriname shrimps for resale. However, he explained that it is only those few vendors who have always been selling the shrimp from Suriname. “I begged them personally to look I have the shrimps here I am supplying you. They turn away from the shrimps. They won’t buy it,” Arjune said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder, at an event in the Corentyne area yesterday stated that the smuggling of shrimp and fish into Guyana has the potential to generate many problems, such as the introduction of harmful pests and diseases into the environment. “Fish and shrimp not inspected by the health authorities may very well not be fit for human consumption and can cause many health problems in our population, so while you might get a cheaper commodity, you may be damaging your health and the health of your family,” the minister said.
Recently, a group of fishermen had intercepted a quantity of smuggled shrimp at the Number 63 Beach. Commander of ‘B’ Division Ian Amsterdam had confirmed that ranks from the Number 51 Police Station, were part of the operation, where 17 pails of shrimp were seized and discarded after being deemed unfit for human consumption by a public health official.
The fishermen are calling on the relevant authorities to look into the matter, as they stated, that it is in the best interest of the country, if the smuggled shrimp is not sold in Guyana. They also pleaded with citizens to refrain from purchasing same.
According to one fisherman, the difference in the shrimp is obvious as there is a deep red dot on the head of the foreign products. The angry fishermen threatened to continue to protest peacefully until the matter is resolved.