The government of Guyana is condemning “in its strongest possible terms” what it says is the most recent harassment being meted out to Guyanese fisherfolk by the Surinamese government.
In a statement issued late on Monday, Georgetown said that the actions are being taken against local fisherfolk even as the neighbouring Dutch-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) neighbour has failed “to grant licenses to our fishermen in keeping with a commitment made to… Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali …on 26 November 2020, during a visit to Suriname”.
According to the government-issued statement, during that visit, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha met with his Surinamese counterpart, Parmanand Sewdien, and requested the issuance of 150 licences which will allow Guyanese fishermen to ply their trade in Suriname Ocean waters.
Mustapha recalled the earlier discussions between Ali and President Chandrikapersaud Santokhi, that there should be an agreement on the issuance of the number of licenses requested by Guyana.
The statement said that Sewdien also indicated that his government would form a company that will deal with the issuing of licences to the Guyanese fishermen.
“At the last meeting of President Ali and President Santokhi in Georgetown, it was agreed that by January 1 2022, arrangements would have been put in place to facilitate the issuance of the 150 SK licences to Guyanese fishermen.
“Taking into account this decision, the Minister of Agriculture of Guyana communicated the names of the persons interested in being issued licenses via a letter dated 16 November 2021 to his Surinamese counterpart.
“To date, the government of Guyana has not been advised on the status of the establishment of the company referred to, nor on the issuances of the licenses,” the statement said.
It said 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 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.”
Paramaribo has not official responded to the statement from Georgetown.
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