Guyanese fishing vessels, captains detained in Suriname with apparent ‘false license’ 

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Three Guyanese boat captains and their fishing vessels were earlier this week taken into custody at Nickerie, Suriname after they were reportedly found fishing in Suriname’s waters with apparent ‘false licenses.’

The captains were identified as Ramesh Ramchand and Mahendra Bissessar of Annandale, East Coast Demerara (ECD) and Troy Tyrell of Lusignan, ECD. The News Room understands that some nine fishermen who worked on the vessels were deported to Guyana.

One of the vessel owners, Emmaleeta Singh, told the News Room via telephone on Thursday that the licenses to operate in Suriname’s waters were rented from the authorities in that country.

This is a longstanding arrangement where Guyanese fisherfolk have been fishing under an exploitative, unsanctioned arrangement wherein they rent the licenses from the Surinamese.

Based on Surinamese law, fishing licenses are only granted to citizens of that country.

“The Surinamese give them the license to rent to fish over in Suriname and like the license wasn’t a proper license and when the coastguard run [the waters] they hold up the boat, free the workmen and hold up the captains,” Singh explained.

Meanwhile, when contacted, Tyrell’s mother Shamdai said she heard that her son was among others captured while fishing in the Corentyne River.

She could not provide other details but joined Singh in calling on the relevant Guyanese authorities to intervene to ensure the men are freed.

Calls to Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha went unanswered.

But Chairman of the Guyana National Fisherfolk Organisation Parmeshwar Jainarine explained that while he heard about the Guyanese fishermen being detained in Suriname, he does not have the details surrounding the incident.

“We heard that they hold a couple of boats because of false license but we didn’t hear back anything,” Jainarine said while explaining that the Organisation is only familiar with vessels from the Corentyne Berbice region.

However, Jainarine added: “I will make some calls and find out, we have contacts in Suriname.”

To counter longstanding challenges of Guyanese fisherfolk plying their trade in Suriname, the Surinamese and Guyanese governments have been engaging each other. 

Some 150 licenses were promised to Guyanese fisherfolk so that they would not need to engage in the ongoing exploitative arrangement, but there has been a pushback by some Surinamese in granting the licenses.

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