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Catfish exports to US: “The ball is still in Guyana’s court”- American Ambassador

Last Updated on Monday, 26 September 2022, 16:53 by Denis Chabrol

Sarah-Ann Lynch

The United States (US) is awaiting key documentation from Guyana before deciding whether to lift the now four-year long ban on catfish, also known locally as gilbaka, American Ambassador to Guyana Sarah-Ann Lynch said Monday.

“The ball is still in Guyana’s court to finish all the paperwork that’s involved with the exporting,” she told Demerara Waves Online News.

She said the Fisheries Office of the US Department of Agriculture has been helping to get all the paperwork in place but the Guyana government still needs to “provide the last little bit of paperwork.”

The American envoy said Guyana’s compliance with all of the required standards for catfish export “is not in writing yet.” They need to provide and meet those standards and show evidence of meeting those standards,” Ms Lynch added. She said Guyana has not given a timeline by which the documents would be provided and there are no planned or requested visits by US experts.

Guyana, on the other hand, is reportedly still awaiting more information from the US authorities.

The US in 2018 imposed a ban on Guyana’s catfish exports over this South American nation’s apparent failure to have inspectors present at least one hour before the start of an eight-hour shift, and insufficient documentation on how Guyana manages its adulterated catfish products.

President Irfaan Ali, during an interaction with members of the Guyanese diaspora in Orland0, Florida on September 17, said the matter of catfish was a “big issue”.  Dr Ali declined to give a specific time frame within which Guyana would succeed in convincing the US to remove that marine species removed from a protected list.  “I can’t say how close we are…I know that it is on the bilateral agenda, I know that it is receiving the highest attention by the US Trade Department,” he said.

“I can’t make any hard commitment as to when. It’s a fishy situation,” he said.

Guyana’s fishing industry has lost billions of dollars in earnings from catfish sales to the US and Canada.

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September 2022