Detained Guyanese fishermen accused of having protected Hammerhead Shark among their catch
- third vessel possibly detained
By Kurt Campbell
The 12 Guyanese fishermen detained for a week now in Venezuela are being accused of having among their catch the protected species of the hammerhead shark, a fish that is prohibited from being trawled.
When approached by the News Room at Parliament on Thursday, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd, said his Venezuelan counterpart, Jorge Arreaza, made the claim, during a virtual meeting Monday. Todd said although the ministry is in contact with the detained fishermen, he has not enquired whether this is true.
He said his work is centered on the release of the men and their vessels; he insisted that they were apprehended in Guyana’s waters.
“We are dealing with the release of the men and not with the catch. At the end of the day, the vessels were apprehended in Guyana’s territory, whatever the catch, would be a matter for Guyana by law,” the Guyanese Foreign Minister emphasised.
Todd said Guyana continues to maintain that it is illegal to have the men detained and called again for the release of the vessels as soon as possible. The latest news out the neighbouring country indicates that the men could remain in detention for another 45 days pending an investigation.
Meanwhile, Todd said his ministry is trying to ascertain the veracity of reports that a third Guyanese registered vessel has been detained in Venezuela.
“We are still trying to confirm the report. We were made to understand that a third vessel was apprehended, but we are yet to receive additional details. When we get the information, we will put the information in a statement and disseminate it,” he added.
On January 21, 2021, the two vessels were intercepted by Venezuelan naval vessel Commandante Hugo Chavez, while operating off the coast of Waini Point, in Guyana’s waters.
Those detained are Toney Garraway, Errol Gardener, Orland Roberts, Christopher Shaw, Shirvin Oniel, and Randy Henry from the Sea Wolf crew; those detained from the Lady Nayera crew are Richard Ramnarine, Ramlakan Kamal, Nick Raghubar, Javin Boston, Michael and Joel Joseph.
The Venezuelan minister assured Guyana that the crew members were being treated with the utmost respect for their human rights even as he insisted that the men were in waters belonging to Venezuela,
Guyana continues to reject this. On Monday, Todd dispatched a note of protest to the Venezuela authorities and summoned the Chargé d’ Affaires of the Embassy of Venezuela, Mr Moses Chavez, to transfer the protest note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guyana to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela.
The protest note firmly condemned the illegal detention of the captains and crews of the Guyanese registered fishing vessels and called for their immediate release.
It is noted that this latest hostility follows closely on the heels of a Decree recently issued by President Nicolas Maduro which purports to establish “a new maritime territory of Venezuela called Territory for the development of the Atlantic Façade”, encompassing Guyana’s territorial waters, the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf, as well as its land territory west of the Essequibo River.
Guyana has emphatically condemned this Venezuelan Decree as a flagrant violation of its sovereignty and sovereign rights, and of fundamental rules of international law.