Ambassador Hardt Hosts a Reception for Eco-tourism Stakeholders in the Sport Fishing Sector

from US Embassy Guyana

GEORGETOWN – U.S. Ambassador D. Brent Hardt hosted a reception on March 28, 2012, at his residence for visiting sport fishing enthusiasts, travel writers, corporate sponsors, Government of Guyana officials, and other local stakeholders seeking to develop a sport fishing industry in Guyana. This new initiative, which is coordinated by the United States Agency for International Development/Guyana Trade and Investment Support Project (USAID/GTIS), aims to bring together the Government of Guyana, U.S. investors, the Amerindian Committee for Rewa, and communities along the Rewa River to develop an inland fisheries plan for Guyana and propel sport fishing as another tourism niche market where Guyana can compete effectively.

In his remarks, Ambassador Hardt observed that the event “marks a major step in the development of a new ecotourism product for Guyana, one where Guyana has a competitive advantage because of the Arapaima and Guyana’s natural resources.” He further stated that, “this tourism product will help preserve an important part of Guyana’s biodiversity, provide livelihoods to the communities in the interior, and promote a sustainable economic activity, thereby helping diversify Guyana’s economy.” In commenting on ecological aspects of the activity, he noted that the U.S. team will be working with the Ministry of Agriculture and others to develop an inland fisheries management plan. He observed thata scientific study being done on the Arapaima by scientists from Auburn University suggest that the Arapaima found in Guyana is not found in any other South American country. Ambassador Hardt praised this collaboration between the U.S. and Guyana governments with private sector companies as an ideal example of the kind of public-private partnerships that are possible to boost economic growth and create jobs.

In his remarks, Minister of Agriculture Dr. Leslie Ramsammy pledged his full support to the development of this new industry and the efforts of his Ministry to develop the necessary regulatory framework to allow for further development of sport fishing in a way that protects Guyana’s environment. Vice President of Costa Sunglasses Inc. Al Perkinson emphasized the groups’ work with the Amerindian community and pesented a film documenting the arapaima fishing trips in Guyana’s interior, which they hope to show at the upcoming Sustainable Tourism Conference in Guyana and later on local television. It will also be shown at conservation and environmental film festivals across the United States this year.

Partners in the sport fishing initiative include prestigious international private sector companies such as Costa Sunglasses Inc., Nervous Waters Fishing Lodges, which manages fishing lodges throughout the world, the International Game Fish Association, Rewa Eco Lodge, the Ministries of Agriculture and Tourism, Wilderness Explorers, Karanambu Ranch, Atta Rainforest Lodge, and the North Rupununi District Development Board.

From March 20 to 28, USAID/ GTIS, Costa Sunglasses Inc., Rewa Eco Lodge and Nervous Waters undertook a fourth trip to the interior of Guyana to further refine the design of the sport fishing experience. A writer from a major outdoors publication Field and Stream Magazine joined the team. He will write the first part of a two-part story on fishing in Guyana. In addition, Dr. Lesley de Souza of Auburn University, who completed her Ph.D. on the Biology of the Arapaima is looking at the science behind preserving the fish stocks in the Rupununi. To date, Costa and Nervous Waters have contributed roughly US$ 250,000 to the development of the sport-fishing product.