A senior official from the Upper Corentyne Fisherman’s Coop Society could be expelled from all fishing
related activities if he is found to have been involved in the recent piracy attacks off the Corentyne Coast.
The official was detained by police in Berbice after his boat was identified as the one used by pirates who raided several vessels, carting off their catch and engines and leaving the crews to drift ashore.
Kaieteur News understands that the Fisherman’s Coop Society official was alleged to have purchased the catch brought in by the pirates.
On Saturday, fisherman Leslie Veerasammy, of Mon Repos Housing Scheme, East Coast Demerara, and his three crew members were attacked and robbed by five men armed with guns and cutlasses.
The men took away a quantity of fish, fish glue, grocery, a 48 HP outboard engine, a 12 volts battery, a compass and a GPS, and escaped, leaving the victims adrift.
Veerasammy and the other victims managed to reach ashore on Monday and reported the matter to the police who, acting on information received, arrested the alleged perpetrators. Intense interrogation led to one of the suspects relenting and giving vital details of their operations.
This newspaper understands that after given the boat by the coop society official, the men crew was supposed to have spent more than 10 days at sea before returning.
“The fact that they came in only after three days with all that catch should have raised eyebrows. So there is no way that the owner could not have known what was taking place,” a source on the Corentyne told Kaieteur News.
The squealer also led investigators to the two shotguns that were used in the attack.
Kaieteur News was told that the 48 horse power engine was recovered from the bottom of a creek at Number 66 Village, after information was provided that it was stashed there.
Police also arrested another businessman at whose home they recovered a quantity of outboard engine parts after he too was accused of being involved in the activities.
Investigators have issued a call to boat owners who would have suffered losses due to piracy to come forward with a view to identifying some of the items seized during the police operations.
In an invited comment on the matter, newly appointed Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, reiterated that should “persons of confidence within the fishing sector be found guilty, or for that matter, anyone within the fishing sector, they would be expelled from any fishing related activities.”
The Minister said that the Fisheries Department of Ministry of Agriculture has noted with concern the reports of piracy acts and the alleged involvement of fishermen.
Piracy can be considered a scourge to the fishing community and it is recognized that this is a global problem.
The Government through the Ministry of Agriculture has instituted various measures to assist in combating this heinous crime. This involves the Ministry of Agriculture collaborating with the Minister of Home Affairs to develop an Anti-Piracy Bill.
An anti-piracy revolving fund for fishermen which seeks to provide some form of assistance to piracy victims to enable them to continue their activities to earn a livelihood was also created.
Other interventions by Government to deal with piracy include the purchase of two boats and engines that were handed over to co-ops of the Upper Corentyne and Essequibo and implementation of an Anti-Piracy Plan by the Coastguard.
However, with the current developments, the Ministry of Agriculture is urging the fishing community to cooperate with the relevant authorities in tackling this problem.
“It must be also noted that no one is above the law and once it is verified that a person has committed a crime, the relevant authorities must ensure that the prescribed penalty is applied. The Ministry awaits the results of the recent incident before it can make a further comment as it is noted someone is innocent until proven guilty.”
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