Guyana is the leading exporter of seabob shrimp globally
Guyana is the world’s largest exporter of seabob shrimp, and the government is working to make the fishery product more productive and competitive.
The plan is to make Guyana a bigger exporter of Atlantic seabob shrimp while making sure the stock is stable in the long run and making people richer in the growing tourism and oil and gas industries.
This fits with the PPP/C Government’s plan for food security, as it continues to lead efforts to cut the high cost of food imports in the Caribbean by 25% by 2025.
Among the strengths are a well-run, regulated export industry led by three vertically integrated businesses that have earned marine stewardship council (MSC) accreditation as a sign of their commitment to sustainable business practices, highly effective procedures (from catch to freezing in 20 minutes), a sufficient supply of both skilled and unskilled labor for future growth, and an average annual employment generation of about 800 people, with nearly half of them being women (almost 50 per cent of employees have been with the company for more than ten years).
The Seabob value chain in Guyana January 2023 summary report brought this up.
Guyana is one of the two Caribbean countries and one of the 12 ACP countries chosen for the “FISH4ACP” program.
One of the strengths of the industrial channel for seabob is that the three industrial companies work together from capture to export. This makes it possible to meet MSC regulations in a coordinated way.
From 2015 to 2020, about 98% of the average annual catch of seabobs will come from the industrial channel, and 93% of that amount will be exported, mostly to the US market, where demand is still high.
Between 2015 and 2020, three industrial seabob businesses in Guyana made about 7,600 tonnes of peeled seabob, which is the same as 17,000 tonnes of fresh seabob. About 93% of the peeled seabob went to markets in the US and the European Union (EU), and 7% went to supermarkets, hotels, and restaurants in the region.
In 2019, the Guyana seabob fishery got conditional approval from the MSC.
About 87% of all fishing is done by the 76 licensed trawlers owned by the three largest industrial companies and the 11 trawlers owned by other people that they hire.
To keep their certification, these companies have shown they are committed to making their fishing methods more sustainable by following MSC and fisheries department (FD) rules. This includes a no-trawl zone near the coast, requirements for all industrial trawl nets to have bycatch reduction devices (BRDs) and turtle excluder devices (TEDs), the use of onboard electronic monitoring by closed circuit television and vessel monitoring systems (VMS), and adherence to harvest control rules (HCRs), which limit the number of days at sea to 225 per year.
A recent review of the Seabob Fisheries Management Plan 2015-2020 found that industrial participants have followed fisheries management rules for the most part (Fisheries Department, 2020).
Even though the artisanal channel only caught 1% of all seabob between 2015 and 2020, it created jobs in fishing and in processing and selling seabob for the domestic market. This is on top of what the more than 300 Chinese seine fishing boats, which catch seabobs and other fish that can be sold, do for food security.
Key opportunities include a strong domestic demand for fresh, minimally processed or peeled seabob that meets food safety and quality standards and can be sold to restaurants and supermarkets to meet demand from the tourism and oil and gas sectors.
These chances will happen if stock problems are fixed and bigger shrimp are caught.
Strong demand from the US and EU for more high-value seabob is another chance for Guyana, as the US and EU remain its top and second export markets. Another chance is the chance to improve the sustainability brand.
The report stressed that there is a very high demand for seabobs in the United States. According to a consumer survey, three-quarters of the families asked eat seabob, and each family eats an average of 5.4 kg per year. This makes Guyana one of the countries in the Caribbean Community and Common Market that eats the most seafood at home.
The following vision statement was made with the help of stakeholders. It was based on the SWOT analysis, the sustainability evaluations, the VC map, and the interests of stakeholders as they were expressed during consultations.
“By 2032, Guyana will have strengthened its position as a leading exporter of seabob shrimp around the world by ensuring a sustainable and resilient value chain for seabob across the industrial and artisanal channels that is well-regulated and supported by data, with better infrastructure for artisanal fishers and the empowerment of women in both channels.”
There are specific and measurable goals for the economy, the environment, and society by the year 2032.
By making sure that fisheries and aquaculture in Guyana are sustainable from an economic, social, and environmental point of view, this will help to improve food and nutrition security, economic success, and the creation of jobs.
Guyana gets about 20,000 tons of seabob each year, which is worth about $50 million.
The Organization of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS) started the FISH4ACP program to help fisheries and aquaculture grow in a way that is good for the environment. With money from the EU and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is running the five-year Value Chain (VC) Development Initiative (2020–2025).
Lee Yan is a journalist based in Cebu, Philippines. For the past 10 years, he has worked in the media and writes part-time for the St. Vincent Times.