Jul 05, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – Guyanese fishermen are being told to fork out another US$500 if they wish to secure the desirable SK fishing licence to operate offshore Suriname, Chairman of the Guyana National Fisher folk Organisation and the Upper Corentyne Fishermen Co-op Society, Parmeshwar Jainarine has said.
Jainarine told the Kaieteur News that local fishermen were ordered to have installed by the end of last week, a vessel monitoring system (VMS) to the tune of G$100,000 as part of the licensing requirement. The VMS is a satellite surveillance system primarily used to monitor the location and movement of commercial fishing vessels.
He told the newspaper that as of last week, all Guyanese using the Surinamese license were required to pay the US$500 to purchase the equipment. Local operators have been ordered to leave their work boats in the Surinamese territory. As such, they are required to have the monitoring device on their boats. Additionally, the local operators will have to pay US$30 every month as part of a service charge.
Jainarine told the newspaper that fish operators are experiencing, “a terrible backlash”. They had requested government’s intervention into accessing fishing licenses from Suriname since locals there had begun charging exorbitant prices to access the licenses from second hand providers.
There had been some amount of push back from Surinamese stakeholders, including Dutch government officials, preventing the agreement between Guyana and Suriname to provide the licenses by January of this year.
Jainarine stated however that VMS is not used much by small vessels, but are usually found on industrial trawlers and other large vessels. Guyanese are now required to have the device on their boats and pay the monthly fee to use the fishing license. The new charge is an additional sum from the US$3000 they are paying a year to use the fishing license.
Jainarine stated this is an added burden on the local fishermen and is worried that the negative situation is further pressuring an already stressed industry. Outside of this, local fishermen can no longer come to Guyana with their catch. As a licensed operator in the Dutch territory, it is understand that the Guyanese fishermen must land their catch in that country. The flexibility with which fishermen previously operated, to land some of their catch in Suriname and then on to Guyana, is no longer available, the newspaper was told.
Jainarine reiterated to the newspaper the severe impact of the situation on not just the persons toiling the fish trade, but to the industry itself. He reminded that Co-operatives depend on fishing operations to survive. He said that the co-ops provide services such as painting and washing of boats. Operators purchase their fuel and other equipment, while other services are also provided.
The Chairman reminded that former sugar workers were able to utilize the opportunities in the fishing industry when the estates were closed. “Who couldn’t make it as a fisherman; they were able to do a bit of buying and selling of fish”. Fishermen spend large sums of money at other businesses.
He said on every trip to sea, boats purchase around $200,000 in goods; thus contributing to the business environment. With the current situation, the Coop Chair said he is very concerned that the industry is at “full risk” especially since operating numbers are already decreasing.
Jainarine related that Dutch authorities are paying more attention to the manner in which Guyanese are operating over there. For decades, Kaieteur News was told, Guyanese had been operating in Suriname accessing fishing licenses through citizens who would have secured the document through their government.
A favourable situation allowed locals to access Surinamese waters and offload their catch in that country with no hassle to Guyanese who wanted to bring some of it to Guyana.
Today, that has all changed. Fishermen are reporting low catches, some of which have been attributed to oil production in Guyana, despite an unreleased FAO report debunking drilling as a cause for the phenomena. Locals who venture to nearby Venezuela and Brazil for better catch are reporting attacks by pirates and other hostile fishermen. Jaianrine described the current fish issues as, “a whole can of worms.”
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