Coming on the heels of the Guyana Government through the Public Health Ministry raising its worry over new US regulations that will affect catfish exports from Guyana, the US Embassy here in Guyana has clarified that Guyana was given time to get its house in order to prepare for the regulations.
In a statement, the embassy said a few years ago, the US government changed the process of complying with its food safety regulations regarding fish and shrimp, among many other seafood products and it notified the Government of Guyana of these pending changes in November of 2015.
That notification came more than 18 months before the changes were to go into effect.
“We even gave Guyana an extension until February 3, 2018 to comply with the new regulations”, the embassy said, adding that most countries in the hemisphere have now complied with the regulations.
According to the US Embassy, the US government understands that the Government of Guyana is working on complying, but it has not fully met the standards of the new processes associated with the regulations and until it does, the US cannot accept any catfish from Guyana.
“We have offered technical assistance to the Government of Guyana to help Guyana fishermen and women to comply. Our offer still stands, but it cannot be accomplished overnight”, the release from the Embassy noted.
The Embassy said its goal is to ensure consistency in food safety regulations across products and countries and to protect marine life for future generations.
Guyana’s Veterinary Public Health Department was mandated under the 2002 Fisheries Act and the Fish and Fishery Product Regulations of 2003 to monitor, inspect and certify vessels, landing sites, fish processing establishments and fishery products for the local and export markets.
The US Food Safety Inspection Services (FSIS) asked Guyana to provide the relevant documentation to verify this country’s inspection system equivalence to the US standards or its equivalent degree of public health system to that of the US.
Guyana complied with the request, but fell short of the US standards in three areas.