Suriname to disclose number of fishing licences issued to Guyanese; President Ali appeals for Surinamese business solidarity with Guyanese fisherfolk

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 April 2022, 21:40 by Denis Chabrol

President Irfaan Ali and Suriname’s President, Chandrikapersad Santokhi

Suriname’s President, Chandrikapersad Santokhi is expected to provide a breakdown of the number of fishing licences that has been granted to Guyanese but his Guyanese counterpart wants to see if those figures are before or after their agreement for 150 licences, President Irfaan Ali said Wednesday.

The Guyanese leader said in talks earlier Wednesday, both Mr. Santokhi and Foreign Affairs Minister Albert Ramdhin “said to me that they are going to send some statistics to show how many licences were issued to Guyanese.”

Dr. Ali said Mr Ramdhin “claimed that a high percentage of licences issued by the Surinamese authority were issued to Guyanese  so I’m waiting on that.”

The President was unsure whether the expected statistics would be for licences issued before  or after he and his Surinamese counterpart had agreed that Paramaribo would have issued 150 fishing licences to Guyanese. “I’m saying very clearly that we have had excellent collaboration with the Surinamese in relation to our fisherfolk and we expect this to continue and we are not wavering our position that we must have a resolution to this issue,” he said.

The People’s Progressive Party Civic-led administration has been coming under increasing pressure from Guyanese fishermen, who are largely from its support base, for the licences to be provided. Guyanese fisherfolk have recently complained that Surinamese licensees had been renting the licences at a very high cost and others have not been granted.

Dr. Ali’s disclosure that the statistics would be provided by Suriname came hours after Starnieuws reported that the opposition National Democratic Party (NDP) faction leader Rabin Parmessar called on the Santokhi-led government to disclose all of the agreements made with Guyana.

Noting that Guyana has been welcoming Surinamese companies food, financial and other services, he called on them to stand in solidarity with the Guyanese fisherfolk to lobby for them to be allowed to fish legally in Surinamese waters. “We have always supported them and I expect that these investors, too,; the private sector from Suriname who have always expressed strong sentiments would also add their voice on this issue to ensure that our fisherfolk are not treated differently,” Dr. Ali said.