Three pirates, armed with five guns went on a rampage in the Corentyne since Thursday, terrorizing and robbing the crew of some 15 fishing boats of engines, gasoline and groceries and shooting a crew member.
During one of the attacks, the pirates fired several shots in the air and one of the bullets hit a fisherman in the shoulder. The incidents occurred just off the coast between Eversham and Bush Lot.
In a statement issued yesterday, the Ministry of Agriculture expressed concern and said that this latest spate of attacks comes in the wake of the escape of convicted sea bandit, Kevin ‘Long Hair’ Narine from the New Amsterdam Prison.
Some of the fishers who wished to remain anonymous told the Sunday Stabroek yesterday that they believed the attacks were “out of spite”. They recalled that after one of the hijackings some time ago, police had called some of them to identify the pirates including Narine, and there was no “screen” to separate them.
They pointed out during this latest attack the pirates asked for some of the boat owners by name. The fishermen said they fear for their lives.
The heavily-masked bandits even rammed a boat belonging to a fisherman of Number 68 Village, Corentyne and caused it to sink. They asked the fishermen who the boat belonged to before ramming it. The pirates, according to reports, had already robbed the crew of the engine and other items and had ordered them into another boat. This is the second boat to have been sunk for the man in eight months.
Reports are that the pirates first attacked a fishing crew of Rosignol, West Bank Berbice and took possession of their boat. This newspaper was told that their seine was left in the water and yesterday they went back to retrieve it.
After hijacking the boat they kept the crew onboard and used the same vessel to carry out the raids on about 15 other boats.
Around 6:30 pm on Friday they stuffed about 37 crew members into the boat they were in and took them all the way to the mouth of the Paramaribo River.
There, they confronted three Surinamese who were fishing in a smaller and faster boat. They dumped them into the boat with the local fishers and escaped in the small boat.
From there, the men were left to drift back to Guyana and they arrived safely some time yesterday. The Suriname fishers were still at Number 43 Village when this newspaper spoke to fishermen in the area.
Owner of one of the boats, Suresh Manohar of Number 43 Village told this newspaper that the pirates stole his engine that he recently bought on credit from Courts store. He also lost a quantity of foodstuff and gasoline.
His brother, who captained his boat, said the pirates hardly spoke and would show signs most of the time.
Meanwhile, the fishermen told this newspaper that “Guyana has to link up with Suriname and work as a team to catch the pirates. They have to forget about the jurisdiction water… because after committing the act they would hide out in Suriname. They know the shores well.”
They were also disappointed that “the police had the man [Narine] in their hands and made him get away.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture said its Fisheries Department was in contact with the Guyana Police Force and the Coast Guard.
The ministry voiced its concern over the recent spate of hijackings especially at a period when several events are being hosted in recognition of Fisherfolks’ Day to acknowledge their hard work and contribution to the economy.
The latest spate of attacks also comes in the wake of the escape of convicted sea bandit Kevin `Long Hair’ Narine from the New Amsterdam prison. The feared Narine was recently convicted at the New Amsterdam Assizes and days later he and others broke out of prison.
According to the statement, Minister of Agriculture, Robert M Persaud in his Fisherfolks’ Day message highlighted the threat of piracy and other security concerns.
Additionally, Persaud recently summoned a special meeting of the Fisheries Advisory Committee to discuss issues regarding the safety of fisherfolk at sea. That committee consists of stakeholders from the various fishing cooperatives, the Coast Guard, Guyana Police Force, Maritime Administration, Foreign Affairs, Attorney General’s Chambers, University of Guyana, Private Trawlers Association and the Ministry of Agriculture.