Guyanese fishing boats will no longer remain in Suriname

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Guyanese fisherfolk are now being allowed to moor their boats in Guyana, setting aside a previous arrangement that required that the boats be stationed in Suriname.

President of the Upper Corentyne Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Hemchand Jaichand told the News Room that the existing costly and exploitative arrangements faced by Guyanese fishermen by Surinamese authorities seem to be “softening.”

He said they are pleased with this measure and remain hopeful that such good relations can continue.

According to Jaichand, about two weeks ago Suriname lifted the requirement for Guyanese fishing vessels to be moored in the neighbouring country.

‘As the President of the Upper Corentyne Chamber of Commerce, I am satisfied now because usually the boat never used to be coming over here. It was a real hassle in terms of parking the boats and with the workers going back and forth.”

United States Ambassador, Sarah Ann Lynch and President of the Upper Corentyne Chamber of Commerce, Krishnand Jaichand at the media engagement (Photo: News Room/April 28, 2021)

“I was told maybe two weeks now or a week, they are allowing the boats to come back to Guyana,” Jaichand revealed.

For years, Guyanese fishermen have been subjected to exploitative arrangements when trying to fish in waters claimed by Suriname.

There are over 160 fishing vessels that operate in Suriname’s waters and with the lifting of this requirement, a huge burden and expense imposed on Guyanese fishermen are also lifted.

“It was a very costly exercise where the owners would have to ensure the workers on the boat come back to Guyana then when they ready to go to sea take them back, there was difficulty repairing their nets, they had to put security where the boats are being parked so that was a really big cost,” Jaichand explained.

While he welcomed the lifted requirement, Jaichand said for too long, local fisherfolk have endured being hassled by the Suriname security forces. The Chamber is now looking forward to a peaceful resolution in the granting of fishing licenses to Guyanese fishermen.

The issuance of much-needed fishing licences to Guyanese fishermen continues to be delayed despite Suriname’s commitment to Guyana two years ago.

An email shared in the Surinamese Parliament last week shows the Surinamese government did indeed commit to granting fishing licences to Guyanese fishermen.

Based on the email, Suriname made additional proposals to improve the licensing arrangement for Guyanese fishermen in keeping with the Dutch-speaking country’s Fisheries Act.

The country proposed that a government-owned company be appointed to act as the business partner for Guyanese fishermen and to facilitate the signing of a “vesselbasing” agreement to simplify the process.

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