By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Some 20 Fishermen from Meten-Meer-Zorg, West Coast Demerara have declined to ply their trade for fear of harassment from Coast Guards and the Police.
According to the men, five persons – two Coast Guards, one Fishery Officer and two Police – approached a fishing vessel on Wednesday, August 06; relieved the fishermen of some seven anchors which cost almost $30,000 and threw it overboard.
The men say upon learning of this development, they were forced to leave their boats and come to Georgetown to clarify the reasons for this “threat to their livelihood.”
According to the fishermen, they have already suffered losses since their ice and groceries which were bought earlier are now of no use. Fisherman Asraf Ali explained that when they visited the Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Agriculture on Thurday (August 07), the Fisheries Officer told them that they are illegally fishing since they are unlicensed and will have to wait one year for things to be put in place.
He recalled that about two years ago, they began ‘Anchor Seine Fishing’ and applied for licenses one year ago. Ali said they were told that they would have to wait for things to be put in place before being granted the license.
“Every time yougo, them telling you they will get back to us and not giving a good answer, they want us to wait one year to put things into place saying its illegal but it’s only illegal because they can’t put things in place,” the man vented.
“We will have to buy new nets, build new boats and we have no knowledge of drift seine fishing, we will also have to fire some of the men who don’t know how are we going to do it… we are small fishermen some of us have bank loans and we can’t afford the added expense neither we can’t do without working.”
Meanwhile, Fisherman Raj Kumar spoke of a push around in trying to meet the Minister and relevant authorities to explain their difficulties.
He said too that he will put up resistance; violent is necessary, to any threat to him fishing because without fishing, his family is likely to starve to death.
“When you go to see a Minister you have to wait all day even if he eating a piece of bread and when you go in, it’s an attitude, If we ain’t work, we can’t eat… all we asking the Minister is to give us a chance to eat and live and maintain family,” he said.
The man who seemed to be quite upset added, “If this continues the Coast Guard will either kill me or I will kill… I will not let any Coast Guard take off my anchor because that’s all what I got… We are all poor people here and we can’tafford drift seine.”
Another man said “All we asking is to live, nothing more that’s all and we are all Guyanese and I can’t see why we can’t fish in our own country to feed we own nation.”
The men begged for the authorities to understand their challenges with another fisherman lamenting “We not thieving, we not robbing, we working we just want to work.”
They are expected to return to the city tomorrow where another attempt will be made to meet with Minister of Agriculture Dr. Leslie Ramsammy.