Mustapha ‘optimistic’ Guyana’s catfish ban will be reversed with amended Fisheries Act

majority of the protocols that were required to remove the current ban are almost completed. The ban was imposed because Guyana falls short of the US standards in three areas: firstly, on the issue of the presence of inspectors; second, there was insufficient documentation detailing verification of each step in the sanitation and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) process; and third, there was insufficient documentation specifying how the industry manages adulterated catfish products.

Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha addressing stakeholders on Tuesday (Photo: Ministry of Agriculture)

The U.S standards for import of catfish species demands the presence of inspectors on plants for one hour during an 8-hour shift. This move has greatly affected the catfish farmers who invested heavily to develop the industry.

In order to reverse the ban, government has started a review of the Fisheries Act to ensure that the requirements are met.

“Recently we have had the entire Fisheries Act being updated [and] we have already submitted because you know our country was blacklisted from exporting catfish to the United States,” the minister said.

Engagements between stakeholders have led to the update of several Fisheries Management plans. The engagements are focused on implementing Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing which capture a number of areas that are important for the sector and its sustainability.

All of these tie into setting out a number of objectives, outcomes and actions where there can be sustainability, good management, enforcement to ensure the sector is productive and maintains fish stock in a healthy manner.