Going after the pirates
Guyana Chronicle
April 13, 2007

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COMMANDER Godfrey George of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Coast Guard has touched on a crucial factor related to the escalating piracy against fishermen off the coast of Guyana and nearby Venezuela and Suriname.

Most of the recent attacks at sea have been off the Essequibo Coast, but fishermen in Berbice and along the East Coast Demerara have been targeted far too frequently by the bands of pirates who seem to be able to attack with impunity and melt away to strike again and again.

Commander George told the Government Information Agency (GINA) that while the Coast Guard has intensified its patrols in areas where fishermen are prone to pirate attacks, there is need for an information and intelligence network to assist in tracking the pirates.

“Tackling piracy cannot be done only by patrols. We must have a vibrant intelligence and information gathering network”, he said.

“I am calling on all members of the fishing industry to embark on a drive to have an information network,” he said, noting that the recent breakthrough by the Police is an example of finding the source.

Police, earlier this week, arrested seven suspected pirates, at Fort and Hogg islands along Essequibo River, for their alleged link to the attacks on fishermen in the Atlantic Ocean.

These pirates steal mostly engines from the fishing boats and there must be a ready lucrative market for this kind of booty to make the dangerous raids worth the while of the sea bandits.

So – who’s buying these engines and where are they sold?

Outboard engines are not sold at corner shops or in vendors’ arcades in the city or along the coast.

Such engines can only be used in rivers and at sea, and for fishing or ferrying passengers or cargo in boats, so the market for stolen items cannot be that huge.

Only some people in some businesses would be open to underground deals in outboard engines.

It should not be that difficult for the police and army, working with people in these circles, to infiltrate those in the underground trade.

The pirates have become too rampant, too daring and are threatening the livelihood of too many families depending on the fishing trade – a most hazardous one at the best of times.

The Joint Services have done a commendable job in keeping the armed gangs that once spread so much terror across the country at bay, but there is clearly a surge in carefully thought-out opportunistic crimes on persons who seem vulnerable as they go about earning their livelihood.

The fight must be taken to the pirates with determination and persistence.

They must be driven under – and soon.