Smuggling from Suriname killing local brackish-water aquaculture shrimp industry; authorities doing nothing

Dear Editor,

I am a concerned brackish-water aquaculture farmer, who along with many other farmers is faced with the illegal entry of shrimps and tilapia from Suriname. This illegal entry has made our business uncompetitive and many of us are presently on the breadline.

Editor, these shrimps and tilapia come from Suriname via many illegal routes along the Corentyne coast. However, when the culprits are caught (at No 63 Beach on many occasions) we are told that there is no evidence that the shrimps and tilapia are illegal. The authorities are claiming that someone has to identify the shrimps and tilapia to ascertain that they are from Suriname, The authorities were told by the smugglers that the shrimps and tilapia are caught in the Corentyne River and not in Suriname, and as such they are allowed to bring them in. One reputable organization in the Corentyne area even went further and wrote a letter to the GRA for the shrimps and tilapia to penetrate the local market to create competition. Is this organization representing the small farmers of Guyana or the smugglers? I would ask the organization to write a letter on behalf of all the smugglers so they bring illegal goods to Guyana to compete with the high prices businessmen are charging for goods in Corentyne. Editor, where is the Grow More initiative? Is it dead?

Editor, all the brackish-water aquaculture farms which are producing shrimps and tilapia are located from Seawell Village, Corentyne to Brighton Village, Corentyne, The question I would ask is if these shrimps and tilapia were from Guyana why would someone take them to the No 63 Beach, then put them in vehicles and transport them to Rose Hall and Port Mourant markets? I find this approach ridiculous, as no sensible businessman would do that. I also find that the authorities are ignorant of the procedures involved in the rearing of these species.

To produce brackish water shrimps (swamp shrimps), the larvae are taken in at high tide through channels and placed in ponds. The shrimps are allowed to grow in the mangroves and in this environment the shrimps develop a black colour. After about two months, the shrimps are harvested and sold in Port Mourant and Rose Hall Markets respectively. There is no way in this process of rearing that the shrimps are caught in the river or sea.

It is certain that these species are coming from Suriname. We were told that the shrimps and tilapia were coming from a sewerage area in Suriname. This can create a health hazard in this country. It is a myth that the shrimps are being caught in the Corentyne River. The erroneous information which is being peddled by the smugglers is being accepted by the authorities, and it is creating havoc for small farmers. The smugglers have now developed a new marketing strategy by going to the villages to sell the shrimps and tilapia.

The authorities in Guyana acknowledged the fact that this concern is seriously affecting the local farmers, but have related that they are unable to eradicate the illegitimate entry of shrimps and tilapia owing to certain constraints. However, our concern was diligently pursued in order to find a possible solution. Several government ministries were contacted with requests to assist the farmers, but not very much was done, particularly by the Ministry of Health (Veterinary Public Health Department).

1 hope with this letter that some of the misrepresentations that are being peddled about the source of the Suriname shrimps and tilapia would be clarified, and the Guyana authorities would take the necessary corrective action in handling this issue.

In conclusion, the authorities should be aware of the fact that when the illegal entry of shrimps and tilapia is facilitated by corrupt practices, other items can enter illegally and create serious security problems. The area where these activities take place should be better controlled in order that smuggling is curtailed.

Yours faithfully,

Suedat Persaud

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