In the wake of Venezuela’s raids into Guyana waters, which began earlier this month and with the detention of two fishing boats, President Dr Irfaan Ali, chief of command for Guyana’s armed forces, has ensured that Guyana’s coast guard increase its monitoring in Guyana’s offshore Unique Economic Zone (EEZ).
The president made this pronunciation during a virtual briefing on Saturday with other top officials.
According to the President, Guyana has since increased its monitoring of the EEZ, of which two Guyanese fishing boats were recently seized by the Venezuelans.
“Our EEZ remains open. It’s our EEZ. And we have increased the monitoring of our EEZ … the Guyana Defense Force has been primarily monitoring and informing me as a commander, about the various developments in relation to our EEZ, airspace and land border. We remain committed, strong and vigilant. ”
This point was reinforced by the Government ‘s Border Adviser, former Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge, who urged fishermen to carry out their activities while remaining aware of the dangers. He also suggested that the Guyana Defense Force (GDF) should play a greater role in drawing fishermen’s attention to Venezuelan presence.
“I think the important thing to note here and I’m not saying this lightly because we know there are dangers … Venezuela would be very happy if Guyanese decided that in case of Venezuela, they would rise leave Essequibo… because they can then tell the world, look! These people do not want this territory. They recognize that they are there inappropriately and therefore don’t use it, ”said Greenidge.
“We must avoid that. And I say this aware of the risks. Ask the outgoing crews to be particularly alert and attentive. The GDF may be able to find some communication mechanism that they can keep in touch with as far as possible to see what can be done or advice given … if the GDF has identified dangers in zones or specific regions, dangers. But what Venezuela would like to see is to abandon our marine resources, ”the Border Adviser noted.
Meanwhile, GDF Chief of Staff Godfrey Bess revealed that the army had first noticed Venezuelan ships in the EEZ earlier this month, just over 20 nautical miles off the coast of Guyana. He explained that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been kept informed of these developments.
“We would have observed that Venezuelans navy ships have been in our EEZ from January 14 and they have been there intermittently. And we recognize that their mode of movement in the EEZ has been about 60 nautical miles east of our median line and about 25 nautical miles off the coast of Guyana, ”said the Chief of Staff.
However, Bess noted that Guyana has been engaging with friendly military countries in the region and will continue to share information with stakeholders. According to him, meetings have recently been held with the Department of Maritime Administration (MARAD).
“We continue to work with our regional partners, military friendly nations. We also continue to monitor our ocean space. We’re out there, also in the air and we’ve also recently met the sailors and involved MARAD, ”said Brigadier General Bess.
“We have had discussions and will continue to share information with our fisheries and all people who use our marine space, to ensure their economic survival. We will continue to work with our regional and international military personnel who have been carrying out operations and exercises with us. “
On January 21, two Guyanese registered fishing boats and a 12-man crew operating off the coast of Waini Point in EEZ Guyana were intercepted by a Venezuelan navy Commandante Hugo Chavez GC 24, which illegally crossed Guyana waters.
The Venezuelans boarded the ships and the captains were instructed to charter a course to Port Guiria where they were detained and are being detained to this day. The crew of one of the ships, Lady Nayera, includes Captain Richard Ramnarine and his crew members Ramlakan Kamal, Nick Raghubar, Javin Boston, Michael Domingo and Joel Joseph.
The other ship, the Sea Wolf, captained Captain Toney Garraway, while crew members included Errol Gardener, Orland Roberts, Christopher Shaw, Shirvin Oneil and Randy Henry.
They have since been brought to court in Venezuelan and reports indicate that they will be held in custody for about 45 days pending an investigation.