Bejorie Limited is yet to make contact with the Maritime Administration Department (Marad) to have 17 abandoned vessels removed from Trinidadian waters.
Head of Marad Claudette Rogers told Stabroek News that the department will be reaching out to Trinidadian authorities.
Despite ads in the local media since November last year, Rogers said that“there has been absolutely no response” from Bejorie and that Marad would need to follow the proper procedures.
Rogers did not state what those procedures would be only that the department would have to continue waiting on contact from the owners.
Early in November, the 17 vessels—Rich 1, Rich 2, Rich 3, Rich 5, Rich 6, Rich 7, Fullness 1, Fullness 2, Fullness 5, Fullness 6, Young Duck 3, Atlantica Rica 5, Atlantica Rica 6, Atlantica Rica 7, Atlantica Rica C, Atlantica Rica F and Atlantica Rica P—were found in Trinidadian waters. The Taiwanese vessels were registered in 2012, however, a Marad representative did previously state that some of the vessels were not inspected for over two years. The registration of all vessels needs to go through Marad.
Marad was to have confirmed if Bejorie Limited was still a functioning company in Guyana but it has to date not done so. Bejorie is not listed at the Deeds and Commercial Registry’s office as a company registered and functioning in Guyana.
Rogers was asked whether this meant that other action needed to be taken to remove the 17 vessels. She explained that Marad is still making contact with its Trinidadian counterparts to see if they had other questions. She noted that the Trinidadians would have to be told that Marad was unsuccessful in locating the owners of the vessels.
Rogers noted that the vessels were the property of a private owner and that neither Marad nor the Trinidadians could remove the vessels without consent. However, for over two months there has been no evidence suggesting that the owner wishes to claim the vessels.
Rogers also said that she was not aware of where the vessels were currently being kept and she was not sure if the relevant authorities in Trinidad had moved the vessels, which they said were disrupting navigation patterns. “I am not sure… if they have been docked, we don’t know where they physically are right now,” she stated.
Marad was also unable to give account for the condition of the vessels.
Rogers had previously told Stabroek News that if Bejorie failed to make contact, then Marad would go back to the Trinidadian authorities and at that point the Maritime Services Division of Trinidad’s Transport Ministry would be authorised to do with the vessels as it pleased.
The abandonment of the vessels has raised questions as to how well authorities here monitor registrations, especially since the Registry does not have Bejorie listed as a functioning company.
Marad first began soliciting the owner of the vessels on November 8 of last year and to date has made no other attempts other than advertising through the newspapers. Rogers told Stabroek News that the Trinidadian authorities would most likely want to seek financial compensation for having to move the vessels, and for which Guyana may ultimately be responsible because the registration was done in Guyana. While the Fisheries Department has confirmed that none of the vessels was granted a fishing licence, questions have arisen over the possibility that illegal fishing may have happened if monitoring is lax.
Marad is the body responsible for knowing where vessels are once they are registered as well as knowing what business they are conducting. This newspaper was unable to clarify if Bejorie Limited had other vessels currently operating in Guyana. Marad was not able provide that information.
When this publication spoke with him last year, Minister of Public Works Robeson Benn has said that Marad had an obligation to perform due diligence and confirm whether the vessels were operating and if they had fishing licences. Benn had advocated for a “structured formal arrangement with [the fisheries department] so they will tell you every quarter or every month who they have licensed.”