Guyana’s oil-rich basin is expected to see an aggressive exploration campaign once the COVID-19 measures ease. But what effect would many of these offshore drilling programmes as well as the subsequent development of the resources found, have on the surrounding marine life?
This salient question is one that has bothered President of the Guyana Marine Conservation Society (GMCS), Ms. Annette Arjoon-Martins for some time, especially when it is considered alongside the fact that Guyana has
no programme in place for marine monitoring. To ensure her country’s marine life is protected, the Conservationist looked beyond these shores for help.
After a long search, the GMCS President found the Global Fishing Watch (GFW). According to Arjoon-Martins, both parties recognized the benefits to be derived from increased collaboration, cooperation, and interaction in support of marine spatial planning in Guyana, as well as the development of new research and management tools.
This news agency understands that a two-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), from 2020 to 2022 was subsequently agreed to and signed. Areas for a collaborative framework and fundamental cooperation include benefiting from each other’s initiatives, and supporting collaboration among staff, students, researchers, and academics associated with both parties.
Areas of mutual interest for priority action included capacity building for ocean monitoring and marine spatial planning, potential impacts of oil and gas development and related vessel traffic on offshore and coastal habitats and species, conservation priority areas under changing climate, and the design of new tools under development at GFW that will aid in monitoring and management of marine areas in Guyana.
Intellectual property that is jointly developed under the MoU, which includes but is not limited to research data, analysis, reports, and findings, will be jointly owned by each party.
The Guyana Standard understands that GMCS facilitated an in-country visit by the team from GFW in February 2020 in order for them to engage with relevant national partners such as the Department of Fisheries, Guyana Coast Guard, Department of Environment and the University of Guyana.
A half-day workshop was facilitated by the Ministry of Agriculture and included several presentations on the work of GMCS, GFW, and Marine Spatial Planning which benefitted 24 representatives from the said agencies as well as local and international NGO’s who participated.
The partnership has already yielded results such as enabling collaboration with SkyTruth, a nonprofit environmental watchdog that uses satellite imagery and remote sensing data to identify and monitor threats to the planet’s natural resources. Its stated mission is to use the view from space to motivate people to protect the environment.
Upon request from GMCS, the organization provided relevant data on the flaring of gas by the Lisa Phase One Project which commenced on Christmas Eve of 2019 and has emitted over nine billion cubic feet of gas so far.