Authorities in Suriname’s capital, Paramaribo, say that they will lay charges against 27 Guyanese nationals for fishing without a license in the country’s waters. Additionally, they are being slapped with committing the offence of illegal entry, while during their illegal fishing operations they were using so-called fish cages which are banned internationally and prohibited for fishing in Suriname.
While Minister of Justice and Police, Chandrikapersad Santokhi would rather slap the offenders with hefty fines, confiscation of the seized vessels and equipment and expulsion, prosecutors say they will lay charges.
Santokhi disclosed that the situation requires swift action to send a strong signal to all potential illegal fishermen in Surinamese waters.
“In my opinion, pressing charges and taking the suspects to court is a much longer road. I wanted to see immediate actions, but to prosecute or not is the exclusive call of the Prosecutor-General,” said the Justice Minister.
Defending his position, prosecutor-general Subhas Punwasi maintained that the detainees committed a criminal offence and therefore should face the consequences. “They have violated our laws and we will take them to court,” he argued.
While prosecutors will request stiff jail terms, they will also seek confiscation of the fishing boats, materials and equipment of the detainees.
Over the weekend, a total of five fishing boats of the so-called Venezuelan-type with 27 illegal Guyanese fishermen were caught using fish cages in Surinamese waters. A press release from Suriname’s Ministry of Defence indicates that the last two vessels seized on Monday had over 7 tons of fish. Defence Minister, Ivan Fernald said that meanwhile a quantity of the catch has been sold already by the authorities.
In an invited comment, he noted that the clamp down along the Suriname coast will continue in order to protect the country’s fish stock from depletion and securing the livelihood of some 7000 local fishermen.
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