Majority of Guyana's small-scale fishermen do not use turtle excluders
Among the poster presentations at the recently concluded Latin America and Caribbean Congress for Conservation Biology was one examining the issue of incidental capture of sea turtles by fishing gear in Guyana.
The presentation focused on 14 main landing sites around the Essequibo, Demerara, and Berbice rivers between June and July 2018. It noted that Guyana is home to four species of sea turtle, namely the leatherback, Olive Ridley, hawskbill and green sea turtle. The Olive Ridley is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature redlist as vulnerable, the hawksbill is listed as critically endangered, and the green sea turtle is listed as endangered.
Of the 76 fishers interviewed for the research, 79 percent indicated that there fishing gear was not modified to prevent capture of sea turtles. Five percent did have modified fishing gear, while 16 percent said they were unaware of any modifications that could be made to their fishing gears to prevent capture of sea turtles.
Most of the fishers surveyed used drift seines for fishing. They reported catching one or two sea turtles each year, with the majority caught being leatherback or Olive Ridley.
“The fishing gears used in Guyana include gillnets, trawlers and Chinese seines, pin seines, anchor seines and cadell lines,” Bibi Shazeela Neisha told SeafoodSource.
She said that turtle excluder devices are used by the trawler industry. The Coast Guard as well as trawler fisheries representatives monitor this to ensure the devices are attached to the trawlers.
Regular workshops are now being held to ensure fishers are aware of the requisite standards for sustainable fishing, she added.
Photo credit Jewel Fraser