The Guyanese government is calling on Surinamese authorities to not back peddle on its commitment and to make known the current position of the issuance of the 150 fishing licences. Granting of the fishing licenses was a commitment made by Suriname's government officials to President Irfaan Ali on November 26, 2020 during a visit to the neighbouring country.
A statement from the Government late Monday condemned the most recent harassment of Guyanese fisherfolk by the Surinamese authorities, including the failure to grant fishing licences to local fisherfolk.
"During that visit, the Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha, Minister of Agriculture of Guyana, met with Hon. Parmanand Sewdien, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of Suriname and requested the issuance of 150 SK licences which will allow Guyanese fishermen to ply their trade in Suriname Ocean waters."
"Minister Mustapha recalled the earlier discussions between their Excellencies President Ali and the President of the Republic Suriname, Chandrikapersaud Santokhi, that there should be an agreement on the issuance of the number of licenses requested by Guyana." the Government statement read.
The Surinamese Agriculture Minister also revealed that a company will be formed which will deal with the issuing of licences to Guyanese fisherfolk.
At the last meeting of President Ali and President Santokhi in Georgetown, it was agreed that by January 1, 2022, arrangements would be put in place to facilitate the issuance of the 150 SK licences to Guyanese fishermen.
Minister Mustapha subsequently communicated the names of the persons interested in being issued licenses via a letter dated November 16, 2021 to his Surinamese counterpart.
Nine months later, Guyanese fisherfolk are still to receive licenses and the status of the establishment of the company referred to, is not know at this time.
"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."