Jun 24, 2021 News
– Govt. pledges to intervene
Kaieteur News – Berbice fishermen who would usually ply their trade in the Corentyne River recently complained of being harassed and in some cases, extorted by Surinamese patrols. As a result of this, they have reached out to the Ministry of Agriculture which has since pledged to provide relief with the help of the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Informing Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, of the foregoing situation was Chairman of the Number 66 Fishermen’s Co-op Society Pamashwar Jainarine.
During a recent engagement, he said, “Over 50 years now, fishermen from Number 79 Village and Crabwood Creek have been fishing in the Corentyne River. We had an arrangement with Suriname where one time they gave us our own licences…In 2007, the Surinamese took away the licences, gave them to people in Nickerie who would then rent these licences. It has reached a state now where they’re charging US$800 for a licence which has a value of about US$25. We’re asking for the cost to be reduced.”
The Chairman also informed the Minister that fishermen are being harassed and extorted by certain Surinamese River patrols. In some cases, he said fishermen are being asked to pay US$100 to US$200 or else they would be sent away.
Upon noting the foregoing among other matters raised, Minister Mustapha said the government is in contact with its Surinamese counterparts on the matter.
He said, “We’ve had a discussion not so long ago and raised a number of issues about fishing. We were of the impression that Guyanese fishermen should have users’ rights. For example, if we’re going to Orealla, we don’t have to take a pass to use the river. They did indicate that they were willing to give the fishermen licences, both for the Corentyne River and their waters.”
The Minister added, “We don’t believe our fishermen should have to get licences to fish in the Corentyne River so we’ll continue to discuss these issues with our Surinamese counterparts. They had asked us to supply them with the names of those who usually rent licences to Guyanese but because government is not the one engaging those individuals, we cannot supply them with that information.”
Be that as it may, Minister Mustapha told the fishermen that his office will be dispatching a letter quite soon to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs seeking its intervention.
Last November, Minister Mustapha had formed part of a ministerial delegation to Suriname, which was led by President Irfaan Ali. Since then, the Ministries of Agriculture and Foreign Affairs have been in contact with Suriname’s Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries debating the issue.
Earlier in the year, Minister Mustapha disclosed that his Ministry had received a correspondence that detailed the Surinamese government’s willingness to issue Guyanese fishermen with licences soon.
This, he said, would see fishermen being able to operate comfortably in both the Corentyne River and Surinamese waters, thus eradicating the need for fishermen to pay exorbitant fees to rent licences from middlemen. (Ministry of Agriculture)
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