Tue | May 17, 2022

Suriname, Guyana at odds over fishing licences

Published:Wednesday | April 27, 2022 | 12:07 AM

PARAMAIRBO (CMC):

President of the Suriname Seafood Association (SSA), Udo Karg, says he is against government providing licences to Guyanese fishermen amid complaints of overfishing.

Over the last weekend, President Chandrikapersad Santokhi told reporters that a fisheries agreement with Guyana is soon to be realised, similar to those that already exist with other countries, including Venezuela.

Karg said he is surprised at the announcement by Santokhi, saying, “if we want to conclude a fisheries agreement with Guyana, then we can prepare about 2,500 licences for CARICOM, because then we have to allow all member states to fish in our waters”.

The two Caribbean Community countries are at loggerheads over the issuance of licences, with Georgetown claiming that Paramaribo had promised 150 permits last August during Santokhi’s working visit to Guyana.

But this has been denied by Santokhi, who said he is unaware of the 150-permit story.

Last week, Guyana President Irfaan Ali said that his government would not relent on its promise to address the fishing licences matter with Suriname.

Fisherfolk plying their trade in Suriname’s waters have been complaining about constant harassment, since they are not licensed to fish in the country’s territory. Some fisherfolk said they were also renting licences that were issued to Surinamese at high costs.

Ali said he had spoken to his Surinamese counterpart and his Foreign Affairs Minister Albert Ramdin, and was promised “some statistics” to show the number of licences issued to Guyanese fishermen.

“Minister Ramdin claimed that a high percentage of licences issued by the Surinamese authority were issued to Guyanese, so I am waiting for that,” Ali said, adding that the Surinamese leader has also assured that the remaining issues will be resolved soon.