Guyana calls for release of fishing boats intercepted by Venezuelan navy

Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Georgetown

Guyana yesterday called for the release of two fishing boats intercepted by the Venezuelan Navy in this country’s waters on Thursday.

In a statement dated yesterday and released by the Department of Public Information today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that  the Lady Nayera and the Sea Wolf – operating off the coast of Waini Point within Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone were intercepted by a Venezuelan naval vessel and instructed to chart a course to Port Guiria in Venezuela where the boats and crew have been detained.           

The interception comes amid rising tensions between the two countries following an International Court of Justice decision to assert jurisdiction following an application by Guyana for  a juridical settlement of the longstanding border controversy with Venezuela.

Caracas has since engaged in a series of hostile actions including the issuing of a decree purporting to establish control over waters adjacent to Guyana’s Essequibo coast. This decree has been repudiated by Guyana.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs follows:  

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana has confirmed reports that two Guyanese registered fishing vessels – the Lady Nayera and the Sea Wolf – operating off the coast of Waini Point within Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone, were intercepted by Venezuelan naval vessel Commandante Hugo Chavez GC 24 on Thursday January 21, 2021.

The Captains were instructed to chart a course to Port Guiria where the boats and crew have been detained. To date, the Government of Guyana has not been informed by the Government of Venezuela of the detention of its nationals. The Venezuelan vessel was illegally manoeuvring within Guyana’s EEZ and Contiguous Zone when it intercepted, boarded and commandeered the Guyanese fishing vessels. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is currently seeking to ascertain the status and welfare of the crew members.

Guyana condemns in the strongest possible terms this wanton act of aggression by the Venezuelan armed forces against Guyana and Guyanese citizens. This Venezuelan action amounts to an interference with the sovereign rights of Guyana in its EEZ, contrary to international law. It is noted that this latest hostility follows closely on the heels of a Decree recently issued by President Nicolas Maduro which purports to establish “a new maritime territory of Venezuela called ‘Territory for the development of the Atlantic Façade’”, encompassing Guyana’s territorial waters, EEZ and continental shelf, as well as its land territory west of the Essequibo River. Guyana has emphatically condemned this Venezuelan Decree as a flagrant violation of its sovereignty and sovereign rights, and of fundamental rules of international law.

The Government of Guyana insists on the immediate release of the crew and vessels. It further exhorts the Government of Venezuela, and its agents, to behave in a manner consistent with international law and good neighbourly relations.

The international community will be kept informed of all actions undertaken by Venezuela to undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana.
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  • brandli62  On 01/25/2021 at 3:21 am

    Venezuela is increasing the heat on Guyana. It is very likely that they will continue with these tactics of provocations to demonstrate their will to control the maritime waters off the costs west of the Essequibo mouth. This is totally unacceptable behaviour and Guyana cannot tolerate this violation of its territorial waters. The nation is however currently too weak and ill equipped to mount credible deterrence to future Venezuelan aggression. This can only be done by the international community and by a strong naval power in the region. It is therefore good and time that Guyana has reactivated its agreements of assistance with the US. This is a first step in the right direction. At some point, Guyana needs also to upgrade its coast guard with new and state-of-the art boats in order to patrol its territorial waters in the West.

  • PaulF  On 01/25/2021 at 3:58 am

    Unfortunately, Guyana will now lose the protection of the US with Trump out of office. Venezuela made their move at the right moment…a very strategic one to assert themselves in the region..We can also expect a pro Socialist Biden forming an alliance and lifting all trade sanctions with Venezuela further jeapordizing any reasonable solution to the disputed territories. This may further impact Guyana’s
    oil production capacity and their ability to compete in the global market as oil price falls drastically with increasing supply and more countries opting for green energy…

    • brandli62  On 01/26/2021 at 4:10 am

      I respectfully disagree. The Biden administration will not tolerate any Venezuelan aggression towards Guyana (or any other nation in the Americas) that aims at changing the international borders. The fact that you call the Biden administration pro-socialist indicates that your judgement of the new US administration lacks any sense of reality. In Europe, nobody would label the US a country on its way to socialism. The demands of Sanders and Warren, such a universal health care, minimal wages and decent unemployment benefits, are standard throughout the EU and have been implemented decades ago. Nobody would call the EU a collection of socialist states. After four years of Trump and fake news, it’s time to get familiar with actual facts and to stop believing in fantasies and alternative facts.

  • Mike Anderson  On 01/25/2021 at 7:14 am

    America should protect their assets, but America should let nationalistic Guyanese fight the Venezuelans, rather than use America and Guyanese living in the Diaspora to fight their battles.

    • brandli62  On 01/26/2021 at 4:13 am

      What’s the factual basis for your statement? I cannot see any evidence that the Guyanese government is instrumentalizing the Guyanese diaspora to fight Venezuelans aggression. Please provide credible evidence.

  • wic  On 01/25/2021 at 2:39 pm

    I concur with Dr. B. As I have stated in previous posts here, that is what Guyana gets for taking a so-called non-aligned position against the US and other western oriented countries in the UN and other forums. What is the position at this time of the African and other countries which Guyana backed in the the UN against the western world? and what help can be expected from them? nadya.

    Perhaps Guyana can ask Iran for help?- a trade agreement was made on Burnham’s visit there in 1976, where he bought 2000 urinals and later discovered they were not for men but the type that was installed on the floor and women would squat on – that never flew with Guyanese women. That was a joke among those who knew about it, as it wasn’t public knowledge. Stick to the western world guys, for trade and defence, as Guyanese are western oriented notwithstanding what the politicians may claim.

    Where Venezuela is concerned and it’s intention to take over the Essequibo, Guyana hasn’t seen anything yet – one night they will come over the border en mass andup the Essequibo river and it will take much effort to roll them back as there are many coves and small islands where an enemy can harass and hide.

    My one regret is that Burnham and many of his cohorts are not around to see how bad his policies were and how they would stand up against Venezuela’s guns – he had seized all legal guns in the country under pain of jail and then re-issued same to his supporters – he was afraid of them being used to overthrow him.

    Moving forward, the country needs help from the US as special training/ commitment is required to fight and die for one’s country or many of us would not have voted with our feet for safer pastures.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 01/25/2021 at 8:03 pm

    US Coast Guard Vessel To Sail Into Guyana

    Staff Reporter | Guyana Chronicle – December 2020

    THE U.S. Coast Guard’s new Legend-class national security cutter, USCGC Stone (WMSL 758), in maintaining global maritime security, regional stability with a focus on Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported (IUU) Fishing in the South Atlantic, will be visiting Guyana’s waters.

    Nearly half the world’s population relies on fish for 20 per cent of their animal protein. IUU fishing removes access to this valuable protein source, particularly to the most vulnerable coastal States.

    According to US Coast Guard – DHS, the first-sale value of global fish production in 2018 stands at US$401 billion. IUU Fishing results in tens of billions of dollars of lost revenue to legal fishers every year.

    The US Coast Guard, has noted in a statement that of the world’s top marine fish stocks, 93 per cent is classified as fully exploited, over-exploited or significantly depleted. IUU fishing undermines the sustainable management of these resources, pushing them to the limits of their capacity.

    The USCGC Stone service’s first patrol to South America will see the engagement of partners including Guyana, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, and Portugal.

    The vessel departed Pascagoula, Mississippi on its first patrol to the South Atlantic, and will focus on countering illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing, while strengthening relationships for maritime sovereignty and security throughout the region.

    “The brand new Legend-class national security cutter, one of the U.S. Coast Guard’s flagships, will provide a presence, and support national security objectives throughout the Atlantic. This patrol is the cutter’s initial shakedown cruise, following its delivery in November 2020.

    The cutter also recruited an observer from the Portuguese navy for the operation’s duration. Operation Southern Cross is conducted in conjunction with U.S. Southern Command, charged with managing operations in Central and South America by working collaboratively to ensure the Western Hemisphere is secure, free, and prosperous,” the US Coast Guard noted.

    In September 2020, the Coast Guard released the IUU Fishing Strategic Outlook, which reaffirms their commitment to global maritime security, regional stability, and economic prosperity.

    “The U.S. Coast Guard is committed to the protection of living marine resources. IUU fishing threatens the health of fish stocks, and adversely impacts those who follow global norms and national laws. This is a global issue, and IUU is a problem TOO BIG FOR ANY ONE NATION. Only by working together can we protect livelihoods, ensure ports remain economically productive, and support sustainable fisheries industry. Stone’s patrol demonstrates our commitment to the established rules-based order, while addressing IUU fishing wherever a Coast Guard cutter is deployed,” Vice Admiral Steven Poulin, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area said.

    Captain Adam Morrison, commanding officer of USCGC Stone (WMSL 758), stated: “I am very proud of the professional men and women I serve alongside. It is no easy feat to assemble a crew and ready a cutter for sea, but this crew has had to perform this difficult task while observing protective measures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The crew and I look forward to this historic first voyage, as Stone begins a storied career of service to this nation. While balancing training and qualification requirements, Stone’s crew will engage with partner nations in South America in a like-minded pursuit to curb illegal fishing tactics.”

    The Legend-class National Security Cutters are the most technologically-advanced ships in the Coast Guard’s fleet. They measure 418 feet (127 meters) long, with a 54-foot beam, and displace 4,500 tonnes with a full load.

    They have a top speed of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 miles, an endurance of 60 days, and a crew of around 120.

    The ship’s namesake is former U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Elmer “Archie” Fowler Stone. On April 10, 1917, he became the Coast Guard’s first aviator upon graduating from flight training at Pensacola, Florida.
    In 1919, Stone was one of two pilots to successfully make a transatlantic flight in a U.S. Navy seaplane, NC-4, which landed in Portugal. NSCs are 418 feet (127 meters) long with a 54-foot beam, and displace 4,500 tonnes with a full load. They have a top speed of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 miles, an endurance of 60 days, and a crew of around 120.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 01/25/2021 at 8:05 pm

    Robert wrote:

    Not good, I expect the Venezuelans to step up the aggression while Guyana waits for the International Court to rule in their favour. Once the Venezuelans take possession they will be difficult to remove.

    • brandli62  On 01/26/2021 at 3:41 am

      That’s a possibility. Invading Essequibo would however trigger a forceful international response. Venezuela is more likely to provoke Guyana by continuing to seizing fishing boats off the coast in the North West or by imposing that planes flying over Essequibo will be required to register with the Venezuelan air traffic control in Caracas. They’ll adopt the play book of their ally China, who has done the same with regard to its claims on the South China Sea. Claims nota bene that have been refuted by the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

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