Regional Authorities take significant step towards ending IUU fishing in the Guianas
The Fisheries Departments of Guyana, Suriname, and the Fisheries Committee of French Guiana, in partnership with WWF-Guianas, held their first-ever regional meeting aimed at fostering collaboration to end Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing in Guianas.
Through funding from Oceans-5, the regional meeting evaluated and explored potential paths for collaboration to clarify and enhance efforts to combat IUU fishing and to maintain the sustainability of fisheries at the Guianas Shield level. IUU fishing practices in the Guianas region pose severe threats to fisheries resources, the livelihoods and food supply of coastal communities, and the survival of marine ecosystems and protected species like the leatherback.
Delivering opening remarks, Dr David Singh, Director of WWF-Guianas, emphasized the need for collaboration to tackle this issue; he said that “each country has its own set of challenges when it comes to managing its marine resources; however, there is a common goal among all countries to ensure the sustainability of our fisheries. He went on to say that “the shared commitment involves implementing policies and practices that enable us to benefit from the region's shared marine resources while ensuring the long-term health of these resources.”
Attendees to the two-day event held on November 15-16, participated in guided and open discussions to better understand each country's role in fisheries management. The workshop brought together officials from the fisheries authority of French Guiana and Suriname, along with key stakeholders in law enforcement and regulation from Guyana, including the Guyana Revenue Authority, Coast Guard, the Police Force and Judicial Officers from the Director of Public Persecutions and the Maritime Administration Department.
Comprehensive presentations were made on the current state of coastal fisheries stocks, highlighting recent updates, trends, and challenges. Participants were made aware of the status of commercial fish stocks harvested by coastal gillnet fisheries in Guyana and Suriname.
“Declining fish stocks is a matter of concern, and this two-day workshop allows us to collectively examine our fishing practices in the Guianas as they are currently harming our marine life and making fisheries management difficult, so we must work together to find a workable solution,” said Soraya Wijntuin, Ocean Coordinator, WWF- Guianas.
Other agenda items discussed were the various research approaches and the need for better data-sharing practices to improve the accuracy and reliability of data collection and analysis among the regional administrations and ideas towards coherent regional regulations that directly addresses IUU fishing.
To ensure our oceans' long-term health and productivity for future generations, WWF will work with partners to develop a comprehensive joint action plan that will serve as a roadmap for addressing the major challenges IUU practices pose. The plan will encompass strategies for improving the monitoring and surveillance of fishing activities, strengthening legal frameworks, and promoting sustainable fishing practices.