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Guyanese Fisherfolk Complain of Increased License Rental Costs to Fish in Surinamese Waters

Guyanese fisherfolk who ply their trade in waters off the coast of Suriname are complaining of increased rental fees for fishing licenses.

The Guyanese fisherfolk say they are now being asked to pay US$4,500 for the yearly rental of the licenses.

It comes as Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha continues to assure them that the promised 150 licenses to local fisherfolk by Surinamese authorities are still being pursued.

Based on Surinamese law, fishing licenses are only granted to citizens of that country.

Guyanese fisherfolk have, however, been fishing under an exploitative, unsanctioned arrangement wherein they rent licenses from the Surinamese.

An official from the Guyana National Fishing Folk Organisation on Tuesday said that while not officially confirmed, the fishermen have raised concerns over a new request to pay higher licensing rental fees.

The official who opted to remain anonymous said there have been rumours regarding a possible price hike.

He related during a telephone interview with the News Room that the renters’ licenses for 2023 are still being processed.

He, however, said that the fisherfolk are still heavily relying on the ongoing government-to-government discussions between Guyana and Suriname to resolve the issue.

Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha

On Monday Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha assured reporters that the issue is still being pursued.

He explained that the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hugh Todd re-engage Surinamese authorities soon.

“We are still pursuing the matter.

“I was told that some fishermen are complaining that they have to pay increased fees now to their counterpart in Suriname so I am hoping that when he (Minister Todd) gets back here he can deal with the matter and look at a way forward,” Minister Mustapha said.

Presently, Guyanese boats are forced to remain in Suriname and the catches from those boats are sold in Suriname.

In 2021, the government disclosed that Guyanese fisherfolk would be issued 150 licenses directly from Suriname in keeping with a promise made by the government of Chandrikapersad Santokhi. The fisherfolk are yet to receive these licenses.

In October, an email was shared in the Surinamese Parliament showing the Surinamese government did indeed commit to granting fishing licenses to Guyanese fishermen.

Based on the email, Suriname made additional proposals to improve the licensing arrangement for Guyanese fishermen in keeping with the Dutch-speaking country’s Fisheries Act.

Source: News Room