The agriculture ministry on Saturday handed over a boat and engine to Region Two to allow for increased patrols at sea to combat piracy in the Essequibo and Pomeroon fishing areas.
The Government Information Agency (GINA) said Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud handed over the items to Regional Chairman Ali Baksh at the Charity boat house in the presence of various officials from the Regional Administration, ministry, fishermen and residents. The initiative is intended to boost stakeholders’ capacity and to equip them to better deal with piracy.
Persaud noted that piracy is mainly a law enforcement issue and the ministry’s effort is a demonstration of necessary support to implement steps that will address the issue as it affects the livelihood of many persons. The ministry procured the boat and engine at an estimated cost of $1.2M. It will be maintained by the Fishermen’s Cooperative Society of Essequibo in collaboration with the Coast Guard and the Guyana Police Force. GINA said the ministry had previously handed over another boat and engine to the Region Six Fishermen’s Cooperative Society to enhance patrols. Various interventions have already been made to address piracy including the drafting of an Anti-piracy Bill that will be presented to the National Assembly shortly.
Additionally, the Coast Guard is implementing an anti-piracy plan to improve its response capabilities. The plan entails making it better able to act as a deterrent to piracy and to provide a rapid response capability to any act of piracy. This step is intended to ensure greater collaboration and information sharing among stakeholders. The government is also establishing a special fund to assist piracy victims and a radio communication network to combat piracy. At a meeting earlier this year, President Bharrat Jagdeo discussed the issue with fishermen and they agreed that there was need for better radio communication and a better response from the Coast Guard. The meeting also found that there was need to ensure that all vessels and engines were registered and licensed; to develop a colour code for each co-operative society; to stamp all vessels and engines unique to each co-op and to confirm the catches sold at ports. The possibility of random patrols and inspection of vessels at sea and ports by the law-enforcement officials, are other actions that are being explored.