Guyanese fishermen are still waiting for their official licences from the Suriname government in order to ply their trade in Suriname’s waters.
They were expected to start receiving their licences in January of this year and Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha could not provide a reason for the delay when pressed about the issue on Wednesday.
He, however, noted that the issue should be rectified shortly.
“We are still talking to Suriname and I am hoping we can have an agreement shortly.
“The last time I spoke to the Minister of Agriculture [Suriname] was in Ecuador and he told me that shortly they will send a proposal agreement to us and so I am looking forward to that,” Mustapha told reporters on Wednesday at the sidelines of an event.
When questioned further as to a definite timeline, the Minister responded: “I told him [Suriname Agriculture Minister] it is needed for us in Guyana and I hope we get it shortly.”
Guyanese fishermen have been complaining for years about the overpriced rental for licenses to operate in Suriname’s waters.
In August 2021, Guyana and Suriname came to an agreement that licences will be issued directly to 150 Guyanese fishermen.
President of the Upper Corentyne Chamber of Commerce, Krishnand Jaichand had explained that Guyanese fishermen operating along the Corentyne have to pay some US$3,000 to fish under an illegal arrangement with a licensed fishing company in Suriname.
He said then that even when the fish is caught, it has to go to Suriname first and the rejected catch is then sent to Guyana.
With the direct grant of this licence to Guyanese fishermen, it will end many of the exploitative arrangements and in a major way arrest the issue of illegal fishing.