The $99 million surveillance monitoring vessel, procured by the Fisheries Department of the Agriculture Ministry, is expected to commence operations by June 2021, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, has said.
He made those remarks after inspecting the vessel docked at the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Coast Guard Headquarters on Friday. The vessel was commissioned on June 30, 2020, but was never put into operation as the ministry was not able to purchase the requisite equipment needed along with finding competent officers to man the vessel.
“I’ve asked the Coast Guard to help us if they could point us to some of those former coast guards so that we can recruit them to help us man this vessel,” the Agriculture Minister said.
Now, with a budget in place, funds have been made available to quickly put the vessel in operation, within the next two months. The purchases of additional equipment will increase the value of the vessel to $150 million, Minister Mustapha explained.
The vessel, named after the Cavalli (Caranx hippos) – a species of fish – will significantly boost the department’s capacity to carry out monitoring and surveillance activities in Guyana’s oil-rich Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Added to that, the vessel will offer a major boost to guard against piracy attacks in Guyana waters.
“It will help us to patrol the sea and other areas to monitor piracy and, as you know, that is a big issue in the fishing industry. At the same time, to look at various vessels in the country to ensure that the fisher folks are equipped with the necessary equipment and that they are abiding by the rules and regulations governing the industry,” the Agriculture Minister said.
He said that while this is the first vessel of its kind, provisions will be made to increase the fleet as Guyana’s economy expands, allowing for vast numbers of international vessels to enter the country’s waters.
“We will see many international vessels coming to Guyana and we will have to ensure that they abide with the rules and regulations governing our EEZ so this is why we are trying to equip this vessel and get it out into operations as early as possible,” he concluded.