Guyana remains committed to good neighborly relations with Suriname, although the issue of a fishing license remains a hot topic. The Guyana government announced this in a statement.
Guyana’s ambassador to Suriname, Keith George, was recently summoned by the Interim Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Affairs and International Cooperation (BIBIS), Krishna Matwera, following statements made by Guyana government officials on the issue of Guyana fishermen in Suriname waters.
This action by the Government of Suriname since then prompted the Government of Guyana to act and the Guyana Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement detailing its efforts to resolve the issue diplomatically.
Despite these efforts, Guyana said the desired outcome was not achieved and that Guyanese fishermen continued to be harassed by the Suriname authorities. However, the Guyana government said it remains committed to good neighborly relations with Suriname.
See below the full statement from the Guyana Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation:
The following is a timeline of the political and diplomatic efforts of the Government of Guyana to obtain fishing licenses in the Republic of Korea for fishermen to fish in the Suriname waters off the Atlantic coast:
– This topic was discussed at the presidential level in 2020. Then, at the first meeting of the Working Group on Agriculture under the SDCP, which took place in Suriname in November 2020, Guyana requested Suriname to issue 150 SK permits to Guyana fishermen to fish off the coast of Suriname.
– By agreeing to grant permits, the Government of Suriname has made it clear that it will establish a state-owned company as a trading partner for Guyana fishermen with whom they will sign a Basic Ship Agreement, which will ensure the registration of Guyana fishermen’s vessels. This was in line with fisheries legislation in Suriname.
– The Government of Suriname has also proposed the conclusion of a fisheries agreement between the two countries, which would also regulate the granting of licenses. Guyana has continued to enter into talks with Suriname in good faith in the hope that it will lead to a mutually beneficial settlement.
The Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of Suriname also requested the names of the brokers from whom Guyanese fishermen had hired their permits. In addition, a number of criteria were determined for the incorporation of the company.
Guyana fulfilled all other requirements of Suriname to set up the company and after some hesitation from Guyanese fishermen, the names of the brokers were eventually transferred to the Government of Suriname.
The Foreign Ministers of Guyana and Suriname also continued to discuss the issue. Guyana’s Foreign Minister wrote to his Surinamese counterpart, Minister Albert Ramdin, on August 13, 2021, reminding him of Suriname’s commitment to issuing permits.
The Presidents of Guyana and Suriname met in Georgetown from August 17-20, 2021 and discussed issuing fishing licenses in the Republic of Korea to Guyana fishermen. The joint statement issued by the presidents promised that “both ministers responsible will work to issue fishing licenses in that category by January 1, 2022, taking into account the quota established on the Surinamese side.”
– For several months nothing was heard from Suriname, and Minister Todd again wrote a letter dated December 20, 2021 to his Surinamese counterpart, Minister Ramdin, reminding him of the obligation and urging him to intervene to solve this unresolved problem.
On January 6, 2022, Minister Todd received a response from his Surinamese counterpart in which Minister Ramdin suggested that the Ministers of Agriculture of the two countries meet on January 13, 2022 to reach an agreement. The proposed meeting never took place.
At the Trilateral Summit of Guyana/Suriname/Brazil held in Suriname on January 20, 2022, the Presidents of Guyana and Suriname met and permits were discussed again. President Santoki then indicated that he remains committed to issuing Corona licenses to fishermen in Guyana.
Guyana has not received any other official or substantive communication from Suriname on this matter.
While earlier diplomatic and political initiatives were taken, Guyanese fishermen continued to harass in the waters of Suriname while trying to continue the trade in order to make a living and that of their families. Things escalated this year when Suriname captured three Guyana fishing vessels, along with their nets and engines, and sold the catch. After the case, Guyana contacted Suriname to release the ships on humanitarian grounds, but there was no place to stay.
It is clear that diplomatic engagement so far has not led to the desired result.
Guyana remains committed to good neighborly relations with Suriname.
According to the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Guyana