Guyanese fishermen fined in Suriname, sent home without boats

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Three Guyanese boat captains, who were detained in Suriname with fake fishing licences, returned to Guyana on Tuesday after they were made to pay hefty fines in the neighbouring country.

Their boats and fishing materials were also seized but were up to Tuesday not released, Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha said.

The News Room had reported that the captains are Ramesh Ramchand and Mahendra Bissessar of Annandale, East Coast Demerara (ECD) and Troy Tyrell of Lusignan, ECD. And according to Mustapha, the captains were fined 100,000 SRD.

“They accepted that they were not licensed, that somebody gave them fake licences,” the Agriculture Minister said.

Previously, one of the vessel owners, Emmaleeta Singh, told the News Room via telephone that the licences to operate in Suriname’s waters were rented from fishermen in that country.

Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha (Photo: News Room/April 6, 2022)

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

Based on Surinamese law, however, fishing licences are only granted to citizens of that country. Illegal fishing will incur sanctions.

Though these sanctions meted out to the captains are in keeping with Surinamese regulations, Mustapha said he has engaged Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hugh Todd on potentially asking the Surinamese authorities to return the Guyanese vessels and materials.

That would allow them to ply their trade once again, though not in Suriname waters, without the appropriate licensing.

Meanwhile, Mustapha also explained that the nine crew members, who were already deported to Guyana, were not penalised. The reason for this, he explained, is because only the captains had fake licences.

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