Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud has called on the law enforcement agencies to “step up” their operations in the fight against piracy, a major challenge facing the local fishing industry.
Persaud made those remarks while addressing fisher folk at an open-day celebration which was held at the Guyana Fisheries Limited Wharf at Houston yesterday. There has been a recent spike in the number of piracy attacks on fishermen. Last Friday pirates attacked 15 boats in a rampage along the Berbice coast that lasted several hours.
According to the Government Informa-tion Agency (GINA), while addressing fishermen at the event, Persaud said that he is adamant that more can be done to tackle piracy.
“We need to see a step-up by the law enforcement agencies. The Minister of Home Affairs has passed an anti-piracy Bill. We need to see the judiciary also involved in ensuring that persons who are brought to the courts are prosecuted”, he said.
Persaud stated that in fighting the issue, the cooperation of all involved in the fishing sector was needed, adding that everyone involved needed to work and look out for each other. “I want us to have a sense of optimism, develop a greater sense of unity and community within the fishing sector. Many of the constraints that we have, many of the difficulties that we have can be overcome if we are able to work together, if we are able to share that common purpose”, he stated.
Persaud stated that piracy cannot be allowed to continue, “…we cannot allow a situation whereby anyone is aiding and abetting whether they try to (pervert) the course of law enforcement or otherwise, that will not be tolerated”, he stated.
He said that despite the challenges facing the sector, he was optimistic that fisher folk will continue to record progress individually as companies while the nation will be able to record progress via the sector, in order to develop a sustainable and viable fishing industry.
He said that “our government will provide the necessary (support) as far as possible to ensure that we groom, develop and nurture the fishing sector that will continue to play an important role not only in economic development but also a source of livelihood”, he noted.
President of the Guyana Association of Trawler Owners and Sea Foods Processors (GATOSP), Lester Ramalho called on the administration to consider reviewing or removing the excise taxes charged on the sector. He said that the move will tremendously push the drive towards sustainability and at the same time create a level playing field for competitors within the sector.
According to GINA, FAO representative, Lystra Fletcher Paul said that the state of the world fisheries sectors has indicated that the resource is depleting and she congratulated Guyana for its contribution towards the sustainable management of the fishing industry.