Georgetown, Guyana – (March 4, 2019) Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, today, issued a call on the Guyana Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission (GWCMC) and the Department of Environment to ensure that the necessary laws and regulations are stringently implemented to protect the country’s wildlife and maritime resources.

He also took the opportunity to publicly denounce the recent killing of a jaguar, seemingly for sport, and made it clear that all such cases will be properly investigated and those found culpable will be penalised.

Speaking at the World Wildlife Day observance at the Sophia Exhibition Centre, the Minister said, “Guyana has a rich biodiversity of marine wildlife species, including different species of whales, turtles, dolphins and estimated 8000 plant species, but there are many activities that threaten these organisms and species…Our efforts at conservation and sustainable management have to be increased and improved.”

In this regard, he highlighted Objective Three of the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS), which spoke of the “protection, restoration and sustainable use of coastal and marine resources”. This objective is aimed at ensuring that the country adopts an enhanced programme and institute measures to engage in the sustainable use and preservation of marine and coastal ecosystems.

Moreover, the GSDS will emphasise strategic approaches to the issue of preservation and protection. These include: the provision of coastal ecosystem services and fisheries management.

“The Government understands the importance of promoting the preservation and sustenance of life below water and to the well-being of our planet and its populace. We are also keenly aware that to ignore these issues and refuse to be in active pursuit of their implementation, will be to our peril as a low-lying coastal state,” Minister Harmon said.

He also added that the Government is deeply conscious of the possible impacts on maritime resources of the imminent commencement of oil and gas production in Guyana and assured that non-stop work is being done to ensure that adequate prevention and mitigation measures are in place.

The theme of World Wildlife Day 2019 is “Life under water: for people and planet” and Director of the DoE, Ms. Ndibi Schwiers pointed out that this directly aligns with Guyana’s GSDS Vision 2040. “Guyana is on the sustained path to green development. The intention of the GSDS is to ensure long-term, national development of Guyana on a low-carbon basis,” she said.

Similar sentiments were expressed by Head of the GWCMC, Ms. Alona Sankar who said most, if not all, of the threats facing oceans are driven by the human factor and therefore a concerted effort is needed to correct and reverse the damages that have already been inflicted to this valuable resource. “I call on all to pledge to protect our marine resources through simple actions, including using less plastic, utilising more reusable items instead of disposal ones, educating yourselves about the marine environment and disposing of waste in a responsible manner,” she said.

Today’s observance includes an exhibition and presentations from a number of key stakeholders, including ExxonMobil, the Upper Corentyne Fisherman’s Cooperative Society, the Fisheries Department in the Ministry of Agriculture, the Office of Climate Change, the Protected Areas Commission, the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) and the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN).

In recognition of the intrinsic value of wildlife and its various contributions including economic, scientific, genetic, ecological, educational and cultural, world leaders at the 68th Session of United Nations National Assembly agreed to the designation of March 3 as World Wildlife Day.

Globally, the market value of marine and coastal resources and industries is estimated at three trillion United States dollars per year or about five per cent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Moreover, more than three billion people depend on the oceans for their livelihood and as their primary source of protein.

However, about 40 per cent of the oceans are heavily affected by pollution, with an estimated eight million tonnes of plastic waste entering the world’s oceans annually.

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