Guyana is increasing its fight against illegal fishing as part of a broader national agenda to protect the country’s resources which can be found throughout its maritime zones.
On Tuesday, Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Brigadier Godfrey Bess said illegal fishing continues to take place in Guyana’s sea space – a foray that the government takes seriously.
“Yes, there have been issues of illegal fishing in Guyana waters,” the Army Chief said moments after signing a new military-to-military with the United States Department of Defence which offers added assistance in tackling the incursion; the signing took place on Tuesday at State House in Georgetown.
Brigadier Bess also clarified that the vessels engaged in the illegal activity in Guyana’s territory mostly emanate from neighbouring countries. He said domestic work is ongoing through an interagency approach to ensure that the issue is dealt with effectively.
Guyana has also received international help to go after persons who enter its sea space without permission to carry out fishing activities. On Saturday last, ranks from Guyana’s Coast Guard and the United States (US) Military began joint exercises offshore Guyana.
While there has been no subsequent update on the exercise, it was touted as a major joint activity intended to counter illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing while strengthening relationships for maritime sovereignty and security throughout the region.
It comes four months after the two countries activated the Shiprider Agreement that allows for joint marine and air operations to counter narcotrafficking and other illegal activities. The GDF was assisted by one of the U.S Coast Guard’s flagship vessel, Cutter Stone in the operation dubbed, Operation Southern Cross.
This is conducted in conjunction with U.S. Southern Command, charged with managing operations in Central and South America by working collaboratively to ensure the Western Hemisphere is secure, free, and prosperous.
Commander of the U.S Southern Command, Admiral Craig Faller recommitted to the longstanding security cooperation with Guyana and said the new Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement also supports activities against illegal fishing.