National committee set up to oversee management of water resources 

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon on Tuesday convened the first National Hydrographic Committee (NHC) to coordinate the sustainable management of Guyana’s sea and river resources.

A release from the Ministry of the Presidency said that the  meeting, which was held at the Guyana Lands and Sur-veys (GL&SC) Boardroom, sought  to bring together  agencies such as the Guyana Coast Guard, the Guyana Geo-logy and Mines Commission (GGMC), the Guyana Forestry Commission, the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) and others  to ensure a coordinated approach on  the protection and the management of resources.

Harmon, in his remarks, said that there are currently several Government Ministries and agencies, which share responsibility for the same sector, leading to duplication of projects.

“We have a situation where sometimes laws collide with regard to the work of various agencies…You are going to have conflicts and everyone has a responsibility to do something and we have seen this in a number of areas. I have asked the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission to look at harmonising some of the laws as it relates to the management of our natural patrimony because if you go through the various portions, different organisations have the same responsibility for the same activity. It is important for us to recognise this and to come to a point where we can work with the law as it is, until such time that we can [make] some changes. This area of hydrographic work is one such area that when you examine the law carefully, you see that several agencies and organisations have responsibility for hydrographic surveys and the management of the waterways in that regard,” he said.

Harmon added “This is especially required at this time as we pursue a ‘green’ agenda and with discovery of vast amounts of oil and gas and our decision to exploit those reserves in the near future necessitates the establishment of mechanisms and arrangements to ensure that the extraction of oil and gas with minimum effect on our shoreline and waterways”.

Harmon said hydrographic data is crucial in the planning and setting up of regulatory arrangements with regard to the ‘green’ agenda and disaster preparedness and response.

“Specifically, the NHC, when established, must highlight the significance and importance of its activities, that is, the safety of navigation, the protection of the marine environment, coastal zone management, defence and security and resources exploration. The Committee must also seek to increase its importance in the public’s view of the seas and waterways. In order to do this, the Committee should seek to address a number of issues, including the dedication of a department in the GLSC to give effect to this mandate so that it is not just a Committee that meets and go away,” he said.

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