Friday, January 27, 2012

Worst fish-kill in recent times off Guyana and Suriname

In what authorities believe is one of the worst fish-kills in recent times, a lot of Curiass is being washed up on the Guyanese and Surinamese foreshores, apparently due to murky Atlantic Ocean waters and the discharge of freshwater into the sea.
The Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Agriculture says mostly dead Cuirass have been sighted since January 9 and the situation peaked on January 20 when a “significant amount of dead fish was observed on the beaches in the area.
Consultations with Surinamese Fisheries Department officials have revealed that similar occurrences of dead fish have been observed in the vicinity of Nickerie and Coronie during the same period, the ministry here stated.
“An on the spot observation conducted by the Regional Fisheries Officer revealed that the gills were heavily coated with sling mud and slime. This condition may have resulted in oxygen deprivation to the fish resulting in death,” Guyana’s Fisheries Department added.
While the observance of dead fish is said to an annual occurrence by local fisherfolk in both countries, Guyana’s Fisheries Department believes that  this year’s was  “noticeably worse” and may have resulted from one of or a combination of factors.
They include turbidity of the water in the area – caused by excessive rainfall in the general region resulting in excessive cloudiness of the water due to suspended particles from the rivers which flow into the ocean and reduced dissolved oxygen levels. The other major factor could have been a high fresh water discharge – the high discharge of fresh water from the rivers may have disrupted the salinity content of the water in the area which could adversely affect fish in the area.
The University of Guyana’s Biodiversity Centre is expected to conduct tests on samples collected on January 22 to determine the cause of death of the fish. Results will be available several weeks later.
The Fisheries Department said it was also conducting continuous water quality tests to determine the effects of the rainfall on the water quality in the area.
According to officials, the situation has improved greatly since Sunday January 22 and Wednesday, with far less dead fish observed on beaches along the Upper Corentyne Coast. “The situation is being continually monitored by staff of the Fisheries Department,” the Agriculture Ministry department said.

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