Govt calls on Surinamese Govt to fulfill promise to Guyanese fishermen

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The Government of Guyana is calling on the Surinamese Government to fulfill its promise to issue fishing licences to Guyanese fishermen who ply their trade in Surinamese waters.

In a statement Monday, the government condemned, “in its strongest possible terms, the most recent harassment being meted out to our Guyanese fisherfolk by the Surinamese government, inclusive of its failure to grant licenses to our fishermen in keeping with a commitment made to His Excellency, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana on 26 November 2020, during a visit to Suriname.”

The statement noted that  during  the President’s visit, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha, met with the Suriname Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Parmanand Sewdien and requested the issuance of 150 SK licences.

These licences will allow Guyanese fishermen to ply their trade in Suriname Ocean waters.

According to the Agriculture Minister, there were earlier discussions between President Ali and the President of Suriname, Chandrikapersaud Santokhi, that there should be an agreement on the issuance of the number of licenses requested by Guyana.

It was further put forward by Minister Sewdien that his government would form a company that will deal with the issuing of licences to the Guyanese fishermen.

At a subsequent meeting in Georgetown between President Ali and President Santokhi in Georgetown, it was agreed that arrangements would be put in place to facilitate the issuance of the 150 SK licences to Guyanese fishermen  by 1 January 2022.

With this agreement, the Minister Mustapha  communicated the names of the persons interested in being issued licenses via a letter dated 16 November 2021 to his Surinamese counterpart.

However, the Government of Guyana is yet to receive advice on the status of the establishment of the company referred to. In addition, there has been no further response on the issuances of the licenses.

“In the absence of the issuance of these licences, our fisherfolk continue to face harassment at the hands of the Surinamese authorities, including fishing vessels that are stranded in Suriname and cannot return to Guyana for fear of losing their licences,” the statement further said.

For this reason, “The Government of Guyana, therefore, calls on the Government of Suriname to not renege in its commitment and to make known the current position of the issuance of the licences,” the statement said.

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