“Being licensed not a requirement to benefit from $150,000 grant for fishermen” – Mustapha

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Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha speaking with some fishermen [File photo]

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha has made it clear that all marine fishermen across the country who earn their living at sea will benefit from the recently announced $150,000 one-off relief grant.

The minister made this statement in light of misconceptions that were brought to his attention as it relates to the requirements to benefit from the grant.

During an interview with members of the media, Minister Mustapha said that he had received reports that fishermen were being told that they had to be licensed to receive the grant. This, he noted, is not true.

“An incident came to my attention; a fisherman went to an officer to register and he was told that he had to be licensed. I want to make it very clear that being a licensed fisherman is not a requirement for you to receive the grant that the government is giving. The Ministry of Agriculture will work to ensure all marine fishermen are registered and verified.”

“Any officer found trying to stop someone from registering because they are not licensed will be disciplined. I hope our fisheries officers are not involved in that type of activity because my instructions were very clear on how this process should be executed,” the minister noted.

Minister Mustapha further stated that the Fisheries Department was instructed to develop two lists; one comprising licensed fishermen and the other with those who are unlicensed. These lists, he added, will be posted at every landing site across the country.

“We have fishermen who are licensed and we have those who are not licensed. After examining our register, just about 50% of our fishermen are licensed. I want to make it very clear; I’ve given clear instructions to our Fisheries Department that we’ll develop two lists. One will have the licensed fishermen and the other the unlicensed fishermen. We have a number of landing sites in our country where fishermen land their catch.”

Since the President made the announcement, we’ve been working to form committees comprising fishermen to ensure every fisherman is registered. These committees will be charged with compiling and verifying those lists after which every list will be posted at the landing sites so that the names can be verified by the public,” he added.

Minister Mustapha also said that lists will be cross-checked to ensure fishermen do not register twice at different landing sites.

Persons are also encouraged to contact the ministry on 227-5049 or 694-6878 to report any issues with the registration process.

President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali on May 31, announced a $150,000 one-off relief grant for fishermen across the country, during a meeting with fishermen from Windsor Forest and other surrounding villages in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara).