In the wake of strident criticism over the spate of piracy along the coast, Minister of Agriculture, Dr Leslie Ramsammy yesterday said trawler owners will be denied a fishing licence unless they are in possession of a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS).
According to GINA, he said that in 2015, artisanal fishermen will have to be in possession of a Global Positioning System (GPS) in order to be granted a licence.
In recent weeks there have been attacks on boats which have killed several fishermen and left others missing and feared dead. This incidents have caused fishermen on the East Coast and the Corentyne to call on the government to do more.
Yesterday, Ramsammy said that the mandatory requirements will also help to solve a bigger problem. “There is the allegation that big boats come and meet the fishermen and trawlers out at sea to take away the fish so Guyana does not benefit.”
He said that the extent of this will be known with the installation of the VMS tracking device.
Ramsammy contended that the VMS will also settle the problem of trawlers getting into the way of artisanal fishermen and destroying their fish nets.
Ramsammy called on all fishermen to get licensed. He noted that some fishermen fish without a licence and practice illegal methods.
“Only about one–third of artisanal (the most targeted group of fishermen for piracy) fishermen are licensed.” he said, while adding that of 87 trawlers operating at sea, more than half have the VMS system, GINA said.
He said while GPS will be an additional cost to artisanal fishermen, he believes it is necessary to save lives and though it will not completely get rid of piracy, it will make the act less frequent.
In July, Suriname announced that fishermen must have the VMS to be licensed.
According to the newspaper DWT, the new system aims at removing irregularities within Surinamese coastal shipping. Fishermen are prohibited from switching off the system once it has been activated.