‘No choice but to return to sea’, latest piracy victim says

Fisherman Satyanand Persaud, whose boat was stolen by pirates last week, said yesterday that he has no choice but to return to the high seas but will ensure that in the future he installs proper devices such as tracking systems.

“I feel I was unlucky. I like this wuk,” he told Stabroek News from his Tuschen, East Bank Demerara home when asked if in the light of the incident he was perhaps considering not returning to sea. He said that if he could get back his boat he would ensure that it is equipped with devices such as a tracking system even though this would be costly for him. He said fishing is what he depends on to take care of his family and as such he cannot afford not to return to the profession.

He said yesterday that around 1 am on Sunday someone from Essequibo called and informed him that pirates had stolen his fishing boat and had used it to rob another vessel.

He said the man related to him that contact had been with Guyana Defence Force Coast Guard ranks and during a search they found a small boat with his five workers tied to a seine. He said his workers were later taken to Charity, Essequibo Coast.

He was unable to say how long his men were in Iron Punt, Pomeroon River where the incident occurred, as they usually start out in the Essequibo and depending on the availability of fish they would move on.

Persaud said his men told him later that around 8 pm on Saturday they heard an “engine boat” coming. At some point they would have heard gunshots. He said that at the time they were in the cabin and when they came up to the deck they saw a smaller boat alongside their vessel. He said the men explained that three men, all masked and heavily armed, boarded their boat and ordered them to lie on the bow deck.

After they complied, he was told, the men began searching the boat and before long they were instructed to “loose out” the engine. Persaud said this was difficult to do as it was “bolt and clamp down”. He said that after realizing that it would be difficult to remove the engine, the gunmen ordered his men to transfer two engines and a smaller boat from their vessel to the fishing vessel. The men were them ordered into the stripped pirates’ boat. The pirates, he said, then sped off in his vessel and decided to rob another vessel not far away. Persaud explained that at the time the fishermen on that vessel were pulling up the seine and their engine was running. As the pirates approached the man said, shots were fired. He said the fishermen on the second vessel stopped what they were doing and drove away. After chasing them for about half an hour, he said, the pirates gave up and headed to the Waini area in the direction of Venezuela.

He said the fishermen drove until they were able to receive a signal and called their employer to relate what had happened.

A distraught Persaud told Stabroek News that his boat which is only two years old might be in Venezuela. He said he had received information to this effect but did not know what to do or who to turn to.

He recalled that his vessel had been attacked about a year ago but all the perpetrators made off with, was some fish glue. In this most recent incident they escaped with his engine and catch in addition to his boat. Crime Chief Seelall Persaud had told Stabroek News that two of the pirate spoke Spanish.

Asked whether he suspected that the pirates might be Venezuelans, Satyanand Persaud expressed the belief that the pirates were a “mixed crew; some Guyanese and some Venezuelans”. He said Venezuelan pirates would usually rob just off the border. ‘They wouldn’t come so far,” he said.

He said that he would usually accompany the captain and crew on the fishing trip but opted not to since his pregnant wife is scheduled to give birth soon.

He was grateful that he was able to get back his seine but noted that he had to pay the persons who returned it to him.

The man said what is worrying him even more is that he is still paying for his boat. He explained that he had to use his house and land as security to get a loan from IPED. He then used his savings to buy the seine, he said.

He said that from the looks of things he would have to get another boat. However, thus far he has been unable to meet any of the authorities in the sector to solicit any assistance.

The police and the Coast Guard are said to be investigating the matter.

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