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Fishing vessels must be fitted with monitoring devices in 2014

Fishing vessels will first have to be fitted with Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) before they are licensed in 2014 as part of efforts to monitor harvests in keeping with international rules, the Agriculture Ministry said on Tuesday.

“We are therefore calling on all fishing vessels to be outfitted with VMS units before they are licensed for next year. Such a move will aid in traceability of the catch, as well as the surveillance efforts of the Fisheries Department,” Agriculture Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy was quoted as saying in a statement.

The ministry said the installation of VMSs is a collaborative effort by the Fisheries Department and the Guyana Association of Trawlers Owners and Seafood Processors to have the industry certified by the London-headquartered Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

The MSC certification contributes to the health of the world’s oceans by recognising an rewarding sustainable fishing practises.

Ramsammy stated that such a move would significantly aid the fisheries sector as better monitoring of vessels, and accountability will now be more evident.

He urged vessel operators to comply with the new standard to ensure a more even playing field, as products using the MSC labels would have a greater advantage in the global market.

The Ministry of Agriculture has received all the VMS units but only 30 have been installed on Sea bob shrimp vessels.

Negotiations are currently on going with the National Frequency Management Unit to have the remainder released and subsequently installed on fishing vessels.

The implementation of the Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS), will also assist the Fisheries Department to monitor fishermen to ensure they are in compliance with the Harvest Control Rule (HCR). The HCR determines the number of days a vessel is permitted to fish for a year in order to ensure the resource is sustainably harvested.

“Another area for development is boundaries. Presently, negotiations are being done to have fathom lines enforced.  Once this is done there will be boundary levels where sea bob or prawns vessels are allow to catch. This is to ensure survival of recruits in order to replenish the stocks,” Minister Ramsammy said.

The VMS is a satellite based positional tracking system. These devices consist of a Global Positioning System (GPS), and a satellite data transmitter that provides information on vessel name, location and activity.

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