No response from Suriname on fishing licenses, other challenges – Mustapha

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There has been no response from Surinamese authorities to the Guyana Government’s recent correspondence on the delayed issuance of promised fishing licenses to Guyanese along with concerns raised over other challenges locals face while fishing in the Corentyne River.

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha told the News Room on Monday that he still awaits a response on the promised Suriname-issued fishing licenses for Guyanese fisherfolk.

Yet, Mustapha assured fishermen plying their trade in Surinamese waters that they have the full support of the government and said a resolution to the issuance of Surinamese fishing licenses continues to be pursued.

“I haven’t heard anything as yet…I am hoping that we can have an agreement because we are working to get an agreement signed to get these licenses for our fisherfolk. We are still fighting the matter and I’m hoping that we can get a resolution soon. We are continuing to oversee the matter and we will continue to fight it,” Mustapha said.

These promised 150 SK fishing licenses will allow Guyanese fishermen to ply their trade in Suriname waters and will counteract the current renting of the licenses from Surinamese.

The Agriculture Minister said, “We are waiting on them [Surinamese] to issue the licenses. We have submitted all the information that they asked for to give the people who are renting the licenses.”

Two weeks ago, the Government of Guyana called on the Surinamese Government to fulfill its promise to Guyanese fishermen regarding the issuance of these licenses.

A statement by the Government said the promised licenses should have been made available since January 1, 2022. This was the agreed upon time between the two countries.

The Government of Guyana also condemned the harassment meted out to Guyanese fisherfolk and urged that the Suriname Government act on its promise.

As it is now, Guyanese fishermen have to dock their boats in Suriname, a move that further disadvantages locals in a process that is justified as necessary monitoring.

In a letter dated September 18, 2022 and written by a representative from Digital Yacht Limited, the writer said this move is contrary to the “spirit of CARICOM” and that “Guyana’s strong response at the highest levels is justified.”

The writer said, “The special Surinamese approach to monitoring Guyanese boats allows profiteering, corruption, and outrageous harassment of Guyanese fisherfolk. Guyana should advocate for the use of the globally-agreed approach to maritime monitoring and safety – AIS – and a level playing field.”

On several occasions both President Dr Irfaan Ali and Minister Mustapha met with the President of Suriname, Chandrikapersaud Santokhi, and the Suriname Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Parmanand Sewdien, and requested the issuance of 150 SK licenses.

There was an agreement for the licenses and a promise that a company would be formed to deal with the issuing of licenses to the Guyanese fishermen. To date, these promises have not been fulfilled.

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