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…as crew members face lengthy jail termsBy Leonard GildarieSome 20 Guyanese fishermen arrested earlier this month for fishing illegally in Suriname waters could face lengthy jail terms and family members are unable to come up with hefty fines handed by a court there.Relatives claimed yesterday that the fishermen, some of whom were on their first trip, are expected back in court next week where if the fines are not paid, the fishermen could be sentenced up to six years in jail and ordered to pay the mandatory fine.On May 31, some 15 fishermen were arrested by Surinamese authorities as local fishermen there complained that they were being harassed by their Guyanese counterparts. Two days later, eight more were arrested. Five fishing vessels were also seized.According to Richard Griffith whose two brothers, Ray and Michael, and another family friend are still in custody, the situation is getting desperate since the court has fined the captains US$5,Wholesale Authentic Jerseys,000 each and crewmen, US$2,000 each.Admitting that from all likelihood the Guyanese fishermen were indeed in Suriname waters,China Jerseys Wholesale, Griffith said that his family was only able to raise about $350,000 in local currency.“They appearing again next week in court. We don’t know where else to turn to now,” the speedboat captain said.Griffith is willing to pledge his land transport to anyone willing to lend him $1.8 million for the fines that would free his brothers and their friend. But time is running out.“Ah visited them Saturday in Paramaribo lockups but the fines gotta be paid.”While Surinamese authorities are not commenting much, relatives have turned to the Guyana embassy in Suriname which has provided some information as to the fishermen’s status.“These people got children and wives. They want to know when their family coming home. All we asking for is some more time and somebody who could help us. We willing to wuk and pay them back,” Griffith pleaded to Kaieteur News yesterday.It is the same situation with Marilyn from Berbice whose relative,Jerseys From China, Sachin Basdeo, 18, went out on his first fishing trip, was arrested and is in jail. He has to find US$2,000 in fines or face jail.He was working on one of three boats that belonged to a prominent fishing company on the East Bank Demerara.Yesterday, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carolyn Rodrigues, acknowledged that relatives of some of the fishermen had appealed for information and from requests from the Suriname authorities was able to determine that 23 persons were arrested.“We are continuing to vigorously seek information on the men’s whereabouts in Suriname and hopefully soon, we will tell the family.”However,Wholesale NFL Jerseys, the Minister pointed out that from the information received, the fishermen violated Suriname’s Fishing Act and Law on Economic Activity and these were among some of the main reasons they were charged.The official also pointed out that when foreign fishing vessels operate illegally in Guyana, they are punished also.The arrests were made between May 31 and June 2 by the Joint Operation Centre, Suriname’s Defense Minister, Ivan Fernald had confirmed.Fernald noted that the unit acted upon information and intelligence gathered overtime regarding illegal fishing activities in Suriname’s coastal waters. The clampdown was spearheaded by the Navy of the Surinamese National Army.Nineteen Guyanese fishermen operating three 60-feet vessels were caught red-handed and subsequently arrested. The vessels were confiscated along with fishing gear and other equipment.Reports indicate that the fishermen were using a type of fishnet which is banned in Suriname. Minister Fernald had indicated that the operation had been thoroughly prepared in order to have maximum success.“These are very expensive operations,Wholesale Jerseys China, so we had to make sure that we would be successful,” he said in an invited comment.During the latter part of May, Surinamese fishermen staged a demonstration to protest against alleged harassment from illegal Guyanese fishermen in Surinamese waters. Protesters were demanding stricter law enforcement at sea by the government and actions to prevent further incidents.The government subsequently launched an investigation and dispatched several navy boats to the area.Minister of Agriculture,Adidas NHL Jerseys China, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Kermechend Raghoebarsing, had reportedly argued that illegal fisheries are threatening fish stocks and sea turtle populations since involved persons are using prohibited techniques and devices.Reports indicate that in May, eight vessels with illegal Guyanese fishermen close to the Suriname/French-Guiana maritime border surrounded Surinamese fishermen and subsequently threatened and evicted them from the area.Recently, Guyana and Suriname signed an agreement on enhanced cooperation between the two countries to fight crime and share information, among other things.
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