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“Sharp” reduction in fish price, as Guyana asks CARICOM to buy more

Last Updated on Saturday, 1 July 2023, 7:47 by Denis Chabrol

Chairman of the Guyana National Fisherfolk Organisation, Parmeshwar Jainarine

Fisherfolk in Guyana are complaining about unprofitable operations because of plummeting fish prices for several months now, a situation that has triggered a request by Guyana’s Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha for sister Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nations to buy more of the protein source from his country.

Chairman of the Guyana National Fisherfolk Organisation, Parmeshwar Jainarine  complained about falling fish prices on Friday at a ceremony to mark National Fisherfolk Day 2023. “We have seen a sharp, sharp decline in the prices of our catch. Fish prices have gone down by more than 70 percent and the expenses have remained the same. Many of the boats in the Berbice area are not fishing because it cannot pay them to work,” he said.

Mr Jainarine told Demerara Waves Online News that there was a “glut in the market.” “The fish has been coming in a lot and we are hearing that the exporters cannot ship it fast enough,” he said. In clear reference to the scarcity of fish last year, he welcomed the fact that there was an increase in fish supply in 2023. “It’s a good thing for us that we have the catch this year but then the prices are going downwards,” he said.  Ironically, he said Guyanese fisherfolk were this year hoping to catch huge profits but that has not been happening.

He said previously bangamary was fetching a price of GY$280 per pound but that was now downs to GY$100 per pound; snapper from over GY$600 to GY$450 per pound but trout remain stable because of limited availability.

Mr Mustapha told fisherfolk at the event held at the Lusignan Community Centre ground that government was trying to find lucrative markets for Guyana’s fish, the latest effort having been at the just-concluded meeting of Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) agriculture ministers in Georgetown. “I have spoken to them and we are looking to find markets for your catches in places like Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Eastern Caribbean countries so not only we are trying to give you the tools to catch more fishes but we are ensuring that we work with you that we find market for your produce,” he said.

But Mr Jainarine said the solution is for more fish processing plants to be established because Guyana has only two major processors. “if these two processors’ markets are filled then other persons would be able to purchase so that the price could remain stable so that we can make a money,” he said.

Guyana currently has more than 10,000 fisherfolk.

The fisheries sector  accounts for 3 percent of Guyana’s agriculture Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and GY$11.9 billion worth of exports or about 6 percent of the country’s total exports. In 2022, Guyana produced more than 33,500 metric tonnes of seafood.

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July 2023