Police to get two boats to combat piracy -Persaud
Stabroek News
May 14, 2007

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Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud has assured fishermen that government is in the process of procuring two boats that would be used in the fight against piracy in Berbice and in Essequibo.

The minister who met fishermen under the Canje Bridge and at the Adventure Fish Complex on the Corentyne last week said the boats would be handed over to the police so they can respond in times of emergency.

He also said that government had entreated the Trawler Association to donate a trawler to assist with patrols. The fishermen were also pleased to hear that piracy will be a non-bailable offence.

Persaud asked the men to form themselves into co-ops and be on the lookout for pirates in a manner similar to the way the neighbourhood police operate. Despite the measures being taken by the government piracy is continuing. Just days after the minister's meeting, pirates struck on Tuesday on the Corentyne, attacking a number of boats and seizing engines and other items.

At the meeting with Persaud, fisherman operating from the Canje area raised the issue of a tug belonging to Oldendorff Carriers, which works in the bauxite industry, causing damage to the fish pens on their boats and their Chinese seines.

According to them, the tug would be left in the water and during the high tide it would drift into their boats, resulting in the damage. They said this has caused them to endure unnecessary expense.

Projects Director of Oldendorff Mark Pistorius, who was present along another representative, apologized to the fishermen. They said "that is not something that happens regularly and should not have happened in the first place."

Pistorius informed the fishers that the company has since rectified the problem by removing the tug.

The minister has however, requested that the officials of Oldendorff hold a meeting with the fishermen to discuss compensation.

The fishermen also complained that huge clumps of grass cut in the Canje Creek would float downstream and cause damage to their fish pens and engines. They asked that the grass be cut into smaller pieces.

Stephen Henry from the Adventure Complex said he recently lost 600 pounds of seine along with lead and rope, amounting to $400,000 since a trawler "hooked" the seine and cut it.

Chairman of the Number 66 Fish Port Complex Pravinchandra Deodat said this problem happens all the time and has also been affecting other fishermen.

Persaud said if the matter was not settled then the trawler owners can have their licences suspended. He said the ministry would have to reorganize the zoning in an effort to keep the trawlers away from the fishing areas. According to him, there is a revised fishing act and the ministry can take other courses of action.

The minister asked fishermen from all of the complexes to form a delegation and visit his office for a meeting regarding the matter. He disclosed that his ministry would be providing legal advice on their behalf.

Samaroo, a fisherman from the Albion foreshore, made a request for a sand bank in the area to be demolished since during the low tide they are unable to "go in or come out." He also asked for a wharf to be built.

Persaud said he was willing to help but an assessment would have to be done first and he would send a team from Georgetown.

Chairman of the Rosignol Fishermen's Co-op Society Limited Bisram Somwaru said the construction of the Berbice Bridge would prevent the fishermen from using the Chinese seine in the area since it can result in damage.

The minister responded that the bridge project has to go on and the fishermen would have to make alternative arrangements.

Somwaru also complained that a ship that sank in the area about four months ago could cause damage and endanger the lives of the fishers since the company that owns the ship did not put a signal at the point. He said many times fishermen would miss the spot and end up going close to it.