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Guyana, Suriname to meet in two weeks on fishing licence issues

Last Updated on Wednesday, 7 September 2022, 16:58 by Denis Chabrol

President Irfaan Ali and Suriname’s President, Chandrikapersad Santokhi

President Irfaan Ali on Wednesday said representatives of Guyana and Suriname are scheduled to meet in the coming weeks to iron out that Dutch-speaking neighbour’s failure so far to keep its reported promise to grant 150 coastal fishing licences to Guyanese fishermen.

But already, the Guyanese leader has admitted that the major sticking point has to do with the illegal use of existing licences that have been granted to Surinamese fisherfolk. “One of the issues is the rental of licences. Licences that are granted to Suriname fishermen are being rented to the Guyanese. That is the core of the issue,” he told reporters.

Coming about 48 hours after Guyana condemned Suriname for the detention of Guyanese fishing boats and the seeming slothfulness in forging ahead with granting the licences, he said Guyana has since provided data and he was pleased with efforts being made to address the immediate concerns about vessels that were being kept there.

The President said a high-level meeting would be held within the next two weeks to “not only look at the current issues” of Guyanese fisherfolk being detained in Suriname but address licensing “moving forward in the long term.”

The President indicated that he has personally been lobbying “key members” of Suriname’s private sector about the need for fair and equal treatment. “We give everyone an opportunity here and that they should ensure that similar treatment is accorded to Guyanese,” he said.

Dr Ali said Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh has also spoken with members of Suriname’s business community.

The President hinted that Guyana might resort to certain “options” that are available to Guyana under the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) “but I won’t explore that now.”

Suriname’s Minister of Agriculture earlier this year denied that Guyana and Suriname had reached agreement on the granting of coastal fishing licences to Guyanese. Three private sector agriculture organisations have said that it would be illegal to do so.