Guyana waits in optimism on solution to Suriname’s fishing licence setback – Agri Minister

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Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha says Guyana remains optimistic about a resolution to the current stalemate over the issuing of fishing licences by Suriname to Guyanese fisherfolks.

But according to Mustapha, until that resolution comes, the Guyana government can do nothing by “wait in optimism.”

He explained that the Government of Guyana has submitted to the authorities in Suriname, as requested, all the information required to make a final determination on the matter.

“So, we are waiting, we have submitted all the details they asked for and we are waiting on them now.

“The ball is in their court now to give us,” the Agriculture Minister told the News Room at the sidelines of another event at the weekend.

Guyana’s Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha (left) and Suriname’s Minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Parmanand Sewdien sign the agreement on Thursday, August 19, 2021

President Irfaan Ali has also expressed similar optimism that the matter will soon be resolved and although the licenses should have been issued some four months ago, there is no telling now when that will happen.

Suriname had agreed to issue some 150 SK fishing licences to Guyanese fisherfolk by January 2022. These SK licences are granted to vessels with a Suriname Coast (Surinaamse Kust) to fish in the offshore zone along the breadth of the coast of Suriname.

Based on media reports in the neighbouring country, however, the Surinamese government has faced some pushback from private sector players, and concerns from opposition members.

Issues raised consistently by Guyanese fisherfolk include the high cost of licences through an illegal arrangement and the outright non-issuance of licences.

It was previously reported that Guyanese fishermen operating along the Corentyne have to pay some US$3,000 (about GY $630,000) to fish under an illegal arrangement with a licensed fishing company in Suriname.

And even when the fish is caught, it has to go to Suriname first and the rejected catch is then sent to Guyana.

A development in this matter, however, is that the Surinamese authorities claim that several licences were granted to Guyanese fisherfolk.

This is a claim that the two governments are now seeking to verify.

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