Gov’t exhausted diplomatic process; focus on fishermen’s livelihood key priority – Jagdeo

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The Surinamese Government has urged Guyanese authorities to await the outcome of the diplomatic process for the granting of 150 fishing licenses to local fisherfolk but the Guyana Government believes the exchanges at the bilateral political and business levels have failed.

On Saturday, Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo said the government intends to stand firm with local fisherfolk to ensure they can continue to secure their livelihoods from fishing in the Corentyne River without constant harassment.

“For one and a half years we been trying, through diplomatic channels, to resolve this and they promised us, in writing, 150 licenses to our fishermen… I raised it and said there must be reciprocity in international trade and relations. The way you treat us, we will treat you,” Jagdeo said.

“So, I saw they issued a statement, their Foreign Ministry, that I must be patient and await diplomatic efforts. But we’ve waited a very long time… our fishermen are being harassed there and the diplomatic efforts are not yielding any results,” The Vice President added.

He said the exchanges have become a “merry-go-round. But we’ll stand up for the people of this country.”

Jagdeo’s statements follow the summoning of Guyana’s Ambassador to Suriname, Keith George by the interim Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business and International Cooperation (BIBIS), Krishna Mathoera.

This act by the Suriname Government has since prompted the Guyana Government to act and the Foreign Ministry here on Saturday released a statement chronicling its efforts to diplomatically resolve the issue.

Despite these efforts, Guyana said the desired outcome had not been achieved and Guyanese fishermen continue to be harassed by Surinamese authorities.

Notwithstanding, the government said it remains committed to good neighbourly relations with Suriname.

The matter was first raised at the presidential level in 2020, at the 1st convening of the Agriculture Working Group. According to the Ministry, despite agreeing at the time to grant the licences, this is yet to materialise.

In agreeing to the granting of the licences, the Government of Suriname indicated that it would set up a government-owned company to be the business partner of the Guyanese fishermen with which they will sign a Vessel basing Agreement, and which will take care of the registration of the vessels of the Guyanese fishermen. This was in keeping with Suriname’s fishing legislation.

The Government of Suriname also proposed the conclusion of a Fisheries Agreement between the two countries which would also address the granting of licences.

According to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, it is evident that diplomacy has so far failed at getting the licences for the fishermen to fish, unharassed.

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 Government of Guyana continues to call on the Surinamese Government to fulfill its promise to Guyanese fishermen regarding issuing these licenses.

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

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